Danny Cartwright stood in front of the mirror and stared at Sir Nicholas Moncrieff, officer and gentleman. He felt like a fraud.
He folded up his prison gear and placed it on the end of Nick's bed. He still thought of it as Nick's bed. Then he packed the rest of the clothes neatly in the suitcase before retrieving Nick's diary from under the bed, along with a file of correspondence marked "Fraser Munro"-twentyeight letters that Danny knew almost off by heart. Once he'd finished packing, all that remained were a few of Nick's personal belongings, which Danny had put on the table, and the photo of Beth taped to the wall. He carefully peeled off the sellotape before putting the photo in a side pocket of the suitcase, which he then snapped closed and placed by the cell door.
Danny sat back down at the table and looked at his friend's personal belongings. He strapped on Nick's slim Longines watch with 11.7.91 stamped on the back-a gift from his grandfather on his twenty-first birthday-then he slipped on a gold ring, which bore the Moncrieff family crest. He stared at a black leather wallet and felt even more like a thief. Inside it he found seventy pounds in cash and a Coutts checkbook with an address in The Strand printed on the cover. He put the wallet in an inside pocket, turned the plastic chair around to face the cell door, sat down and waited for Pascoe to reappear. He was ready to escape. As he sat there, he recalled one of Nick's favorite misquotes: In prison, time and tide wait for every man.
He reached inside his shirt and touched the small key that was hanging from the chain around his neck. He was no nearer to discovering what it unlocked-it unlocked the prison gate. He had searched through the diaries for the slightest clue, over a thousand pages, but had come up with nothing. If Nick had known, he had taken the secret to his grave.
Now a very different key was turning in the lock of his cell door. It opened to reveal Pascoe standing alone. Danny quite expected him to say, "Good try, Cartwright, but you didn't really expect to get away with it, did you?" But all he said was, "It's time to go, Moncrieff, look sharp about it."
Danny rose, picked up Nick's suitcase and walked out onto the landing. He didn't look back at the room that had been his home for the past two years. He followed Pascoe along the landing and down the spiral staircase. As he left the block he was greeted with cheers and jeers from those who were soon to be released and those who would never see the light of day again.
They continued down the blue corridor. He'd forgotten how many sets of double-barred gates there were between B block and reception, where Jenkins was seated behind his desk waiting for him.
"Good morning, Moncrieff," he announced cheerfully; he had one voice for those coming in, quite another for those who were leaving. He checked the open ledger in front of him. "I see that over the past four years you have saved two hundred and eleven pounds, and as you are also entitled to forty-five pounds discharge allowance, that makes in all two hundred and fifty-six pounds." He counted out the money slowly and carefully, before passing it over to Danny. "Sign here," he said. Danny wrote Nick's signature for the second time that morning before putting the money in his wallet. "You are also entitled to a rail warrant to any part of the country you decide on. It's one way, of course, as we don't want to see you back here again." Prison humor.
Jenkins handed him a rail warrant to Dunbroath in Scotland, but not before Danny had falsely signed another document. It wasn't surprising that his handwriting resembled Nick's-after all, it was Nick who had taught him to write.
"Mr. Pascoe will accompany you to the gate," said Jenkins once he'd checked the signature. "I'll say goodbye, as I have a feeling we'll never meet again, which sadly I'm not able to say all that often."
Danny shook his hand, picked up the suitcase and followed Pascoe out of reception, down the steps and into the yard.
Together they walked slowly across a bleak concrete square, which acted as a car park for the prison vans and private vehicles that made their legal entrance and exit every day. In the gatehouse sat an officer Danny had never seen before.
"Name?" he demanded without looking up from the list of discharges on his clipboard.
"Moncrieff," Danny replied.
"CK4802," said Danny without thinking.
The officer ran a finger slowly down his list. A puzzled look appeared on his face.
"CK1079," whispered Pascoe.
"CK1079," repeated Danny, shaking.
"Ah, yes," said the officer, his finger coming to rest on Moncrieff. "Sign here."
Danny's hand was shaking as he scribbled Nick's signature in the little rectangular box. The officer checked the name against the prison number and the photograph, before looking up at Danny. He hesitated for a moment.
"Don't hang around, Moncrieff," said Pascoe firmly. "Some of us have got a day's work to do, haven't we, Mr. Tomkins?"
"Yes, Mr. Pascoe," replied the gate officer, and quickly pressed the red button beneath his desk. The first of the massive electric gates slowly began to open.
Danny stepped out of the gatehouse, still not sure in which direction he would be heading. Pascoe said nothing.
Once the first gate had slipped into the gap in the wall, Pascoe finally offered, "Good luck, lad, you'll need it."
Danny shook him warmly by the hand. "Thank you, Mr. Pascoe," he said. "For everything." Danny picked up Nick's suitcase and stepped into the void between the two different worlds. The first gate slid back into place behind him, and a moment later the second one began to open.
Danny Cartwright walked out of prison a free man. The first inmate ever to escape from Belmarsh.
BOOK THREE. Freedom
AS NICK MONCRIEFF crossed the road, one or two passersby glanced at him in mild surprise. It wasn't that they were unaccustomed to seeing prisoners coming out of that gate, but not someone carrying a leather suitcase and dressed like a country gentleman.
Danny never once looked back as he walked to the nearest station. After he'd bought a ticket-his first handling of cash for over two years-he boarded the train. He stared out of the window, feeling strangely insecure. No walls, no razor wire, no barred gates and no screws-prison officers. Look like Nick, talk like Nick, think like Danny.
At Cannon Street, Danny switched to the tube. The commuters were moving at a different pace from the one he had become accustomed to in prison. Several of them were dressed in smart suits, speaking in smart accents and dealing in smart money, but Nick had shown him that they were no smarter than he was; they had just started life in a different cot.
At King's Cross, Nick disembarked, lugging his heavy suitcase. He passed a policeman who didn't even glance at him. He checked the departures board. The next train to Edinburgh was scheduled to leave at eleven, arriving at Waverley station at 3:20 that afternoon. He still had time for breakfast. He grabbed a copy of The Times from a stand outside W.H. Smith. He'd walked a few paces before he realized he hadn't paid for the paper. Sweating profusely, Danny ran back and quickly joined the queue at the till. He remembered being told about a prisoner who had just been released and while he was on his way home to Bristol had taken a Mars Bar from a display cabinet on Reading station. He was arrested for shoplifting and was back in Belmarsh seven hours later; he'd ended up serving another three years.