"Detective Sergeant Fuller!" he bellowed. Mortimer collapsed back onto the bench.



He was now shaking uncontrollably. He needed his next fix just as a baby needs the milk from its mother's breast. He stood up and headed unsteadily off in the direction of the washroom. He was relieved to find the white tiled room was empty. He selected the farthest cubicle and locked himself inside. The gap at the top and bottom of the door made him anxious: someone in authority could easily discover that he was breaking the law-in the Central Criminal Court. But his craving had reached the point where common sense was rapidly replaced by necessity, whatever the risk.



Mortimer unbuttoned his jacket and extracted a small canvas pouch from an inside pocket: the kit. He unfolded it and laid it out on the top of the lavatory seat. Part of the excitement was in the preparation. He picked up a small 1mg vial of liquid, cost £250. It was clear, high-quality stuff. He wondered how much longer he'd be able to afford such expensive gear before the small inheritance his father had bequeathed him finally ran out. He stabbed the needle into the vial and drew back the plunger until the little plastic tube was full. He didn't check to see if the liquid was flowing freely because he couldn't afford to waste even a drop.



He paused for a moment, sweat pouring off his forehead, when he heard the door at the far end of the room open. He didn't move, waiting for the stranger to carry out a ritual for which the lavatory had been originally intended.



Once he heard the door close again, he took off his old school tie, pulled up a trouser leg and began to search for a vein: a task that was becoming more difficult by the day. He wrapped the tie around his left leg and pulled it tighter and tighter until at last a blue vein protruded. He held the tie firmly with one hand and the needle in the other. He then inserted the needle into the vein before slowly pressing the plunger down until every last drop of liquid had entered his bloodstream. He breathed a deep sigh of relief as he drifted into another world-a world not inhabited by Spencer Craig.



***



"I am not willing to discuss the subject any longer," Beth's father had said earlier that day as he took his seat at the table and his wife put a plate of eggs and bacon in front of him. The same breakfast she had cooked for him every morning since the day they were married.



"But, Dad, you can't seriously believe that Danny would kill Bernie. They were best friends since their first day at Clem Attlee."



"I've seen Danny lose his temper."



"When?" demanded Beth.



"In the boxing ring, against Bernie."



"Which is why Bernie always beat him."



"Perhaps Danny won this time because he had a knife in his hand." Beth was so stunned by her father's accusation that she didn't reply. "And have you forgotten," he continued, "what happened in the playground all those years ago?"



"No, I haven't," said Beth. "But Danny was coming to Bernie's rescue at the time."



"When the headmaster turned up and found a knife in his hand."



"Have you forgotten," said Beth's mother, "that Bernie confirmed Danny's story when he was later questioned by the police?"



"When once again, a knife was found in Danny's hand."



"But I've told you a hundred times-"



"That a complete stranger stabbed your brother to death."



"Yes, he did," said Beth.



"And Danny did nothing to provoke him, or make him lose his temper."



"No, he didn't," said Beth, trying to remain calm.



"And I believe her," said Mrs. Wilson as she poured her daughter another coffee.



"You always do."



"With good reason," Mrs. Wilson responded. "I've never known Beth to lie."



Mr. Wilson remained silent, as his untouched meal went cold. "And you still expect me to believe that everyone else is lying?" he eventually said.



"Yes, I do," said Beth. "You seem to forget that I was there, so I know Danny is innocent."



"It's four to one against," said Mr. Wilson.



"Dad, this isn't a dog race we're discussing. It's Danny's life."



"No, it's my son's life we're discussing," said Mr. Wilson, his voice rising with every word.



"He was my son as well," said Beth's mother, "just in case you've forgotten."



"And have you also forgotten," said Beth, "that Danny was the man you were so keen for me to marry, and who you asked to take over the garage when you retired? So what's suddenly stopped you believing in him?"



"There's something I haven't told you," said Beth's father. Mrs. Wilson bowed her head. "When Danny came to see me that morning, to tell me he was going to ask you to marry him, I thought it was only fair to let him know that I'd changed my mind."



"Changed your mind about what?" asked Beth.



"Who would be taking over the garage when I retired."



CHAPTER SEVEN



"NO MORE QUESTIONS, my lord," said Alex Redmayne.



The judge thanked Detective Sergeant Fuller, and told him he was free to leave the court.



It had not been a good day for Alex. Lawrence Davenport had mesmerized the jury with his charm and good looks. DS Fuller had come across as a decent, conscientious officer who reported exactly what he'd seen that night, and the only interpretation he could put on it, and when Alex pressed him on his relationship with Craig, he simply repeated the word "professional." Later, when Pearson asked him how long it was between Craig making the 999 call and Fuller entering the bar, Fuller had said he couldn't be sure, but he thought it would have been around fifteen minutes.



As for the barman, Reg Jackson, he just repeated parrot-like that he was only getting on with his job and hadn't seen or heard a thing.



Redmayne accepted that if he was to find a chink in the armor of the four musketeers, his only hope now rested with Toby Mortimer. Redmayne knew all about the man's drug habit, although he had no intention of referring to it in court. He knew that nothing else would be on Mortimer's mind while he was being cross-examined. Redmayne felt that Mortimer was the one Crown witness who might buckle under pressure, which was why he was pleased he'd been kept waiting in the corridor all day.



"I think we have just enough time for one more witness," said Mr. Justice Sackville as he glanced at his watch.



Mr. Pearson didn't appear quite as enthusiastic to call the Crown's last witness. After reading the detailed police report, he had even considered not calling Toby Mortimer at all, but he knew that if he failed to do so, Redmayne would become suspicious and might even subpoena him. Pearson rose slowly from his place. "I call Mr. Toby Mortimer," he said.



The usher stepped into the corridor and roared, "Toby Mortimer!" He was surprised to find that the man was no longer seated in his place. He'd seemed so keen to be called earlier. The usher checked carefully up and down the benches, but there was no sign of him. He shouted the name even louder a second time, but still there was no response.



A pregnant young woman looked up from the front row, unsure if she was allowed to address the usher. The usher's eyes settled on her. "Have you seen Mr. Mortimer, madam?" he asked in a softer tone.