Stuart Pawson: Deadly Friends

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Stuart Pawson Deadly Friends
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    Deadly Friends
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Stuart Pawson


Deadly Friends

Prologue

Clive David Jordan, FRCS, FRCOG, had it made, and he knew it. Aged thirty-five, he was at the height of his powers and his appetites. For four days each week he worked at Heckley General Hospital, his tall fair presence spreading brisk bonhomie through wards, corridors, offices and staff rooms as he dispensed medicine, expertise and cheeriness to employees and clients alike. A hand on an arm here to comfort a patient, his best boyish grin to a nurse there, to give her an adrenalin boost that would take her to the end of her shift, it was all the same to Dr. Jordan. Charm dripped from him like rainwater from a leaky gutter.

One, sometimes two, days a week he worked at the White Rose Clinic, just outside town, on the affluent side. Set in extensive grounds, the clinic was concealed by the last stand of decent trees before the moors began and nibbling sheep and gnawing winds stunted their growth. Word in the town was that the White Rose Clinic set standards of opulence that were not equalled by any hotel this side of Harrogate. Nobody knew anyone who had actually had treatment there, but the postman delivered their mail and saw what he saw, and the staff were recruited locally. The clinic paid good money, and was able to poach some of the best nurses from the National Health hospitals. Nurses have mortgages and electricity bills, just like everybody else. So, on Wednesdays and the occasional Saturday Dr. Jordan's BMW 523i was parked outside the clinic while he doubled his income inside, ministering to the healthy.

Strictly speaking, due to the perverse snobbery of the medical profession, he was Mr. Jordan, having achieved the lofty rank of consultant.

He was in a relationship. Natasha Wilde "That's Wilde with an e' was an actress who'd achieved a kind of fame playing a bimbo of doubtful sexuality in a Yorkshire soap opera called Dales Diary, known throughout the county as Mrs. Dale's Dairy. Confident that her role in the show was secure, she had recently demanded more money, inspiring the producers to promptly write-in a dying sister in Australia and send her character off to the antipodes for six months. Clive Jordan didn't mind. It meant they could spend more time together, either in her rented cottage at Appletreewick, in Wharfedale, or at his modern executive-style penthouse apartment close to the centre of Heckley.

Dr. Jordan was stage-struck. Natasha's friends, who he met regularly at parties, were often seen in a variety of hospital dramas. Sometimes applying the resuscitation electrodes to a stricken victim's chest with a terse: "Stand back!" as the current was applied, sometimes gazing thoughtfully at an old x-ray of someone's kneecap while saying: "It looks like pre-haemorrhoidal subcutaneous laparotomy to me. We'd better go in."

But he, Clive Jordan, was the real thing. That was how he earned his living. Often he found himself taken to one side at a party and asked how a certain situation might be handled. He helped where he could, and once received a credit for technical assistance, but he knew they could never play the part as effectively as he did himself. He should really have been the one up there, in front of the cameras.

He certainly had the looks, and his own life would have provided enough material for a couple of mini-series. Wednesdays he didn't start at the White Rose until eleven a.m." which gave ample time for the wife of one of his colleagues at the General to pop round and cook breakfast for him. She dressed up or down as a French maid, which was totally unnecessary as far as he was concerned, but she seemed to derive an extra fris son of pleasure from it.

Thursday nights, during term time, he had sex with one of the clinic's receptionists in the back seat of the BMW. Her husband thought she was at a pottery class. Occasionally he found the time and energy for a game of squash.

He wasn't serious about his acting ambitions, but found a more realistic way of melding his two worlds together in a sort of symbiosis. He always carried a couple of the clinic's glossy pamphlets in his pocket, and more than one of Natasha's friends found herself studying it, propped up against the cornflakes packet, after discussing her 'problem' with him. It was useful having an actress as a girlfriend, as well as being fun. He enjoyed it. When Natasha was in London, seeing her agent, she said, he enjoyed her friends, too.

But it all came to an end. One rainy evening, as the shoppers dashed from one tinsel-draped store to another, looking for that last elusive present before the shutters came down for two blessed days, someone gave Clive Jordan, FRCS, FRCOG, an injection.

In the ear.

With an Enfield 0.38 calibre revolver.

Chapter One

Christmas Eve we had a rape. The woman didn't report it until the day after Boxing day, so hers was the only Christmas it wrecked. We were having a social evening in the canteen when she walked into the station. Highlight of the celebrations was a bulls eye quiz; the idea stolen, I am told, from television. The CID A-team, captained by' yours truly, Charlie Priest, tied with the Angels for first place so we had a sudden-death play-off to decide the winners.

"Mr. Priest, of the CID, has won the toss and put Agnes of the Angels in to bat first," Gareth Adey, my uniformed opposite number informed the crowd. "Select a category please," he ordered Agnes.

"Pop music," she announced, predictably, and lined herself up with the dartboard. Pop music was the twenty. If she hit it the question was worth double points, and so far she hadn't missed.

Plunk!

"Number one," Adey pronounced. "Television. And here is your question." Short pause while he shuffled his papers He likes to do things properly, but he can be a bit of a prat at times. "For five points, who played the part of Steed in the Aven ' "Patrick MacNee!" Agnes interrupted, thumping the air with a calloused hand.

A m T1VT7 "Correct. Would Inspector Charlie Priest now approach the oggy?"

I pulled Agnes's dart from the board and ambled to the line. If I threw well and knew the answer, we'd win. If I missed but still knew the answer, we'd draw. "General knowledge," I said.

"Number twelve," Adey informed us for the hundred and fiftieth time.

Plunk!

"Number nine. Sport."

"Useless," I heard my DC, Dave "Sparky' Sparkington, mutter.

"Absolutely useless."

I wasn't worried I know a bit about sport.

"And your question, with a chance to dead heat for first place, is as follows…"

"Get on with it," someone shouted.

"Quiet, please. For five points, who was the first person to run the mile in four minutes?"

"Yes!" and "Hooray!" I heard, sotto voce, from Sparky and Nigel Newley, my other team members.

I wasn't so confident. I let about five seconds tick away, then asked:

"Is this a trick question?"

"I am unable to enter into a discussion," Adey replied in precisely the tone he uses for cautioning juveniles. "You have five more seconds."

"Do you mean in exactly four minutes, or under four minutes?" I demanded.

"I will repeat the question as it is written here. Who was the first person to run the mile in four minutes?"

I waited until he opened his mouth to tell me I'd run out of time, then said: "Derek Ibbotson."

"Derek bloody Ibbotson!" I heard from Sparky, over the groans and cheers from around the room.

"Wrong," Adey pronounced. "The answer is Roger Bannister. I declare the Angels as winners of the competition '

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