From baubles to lights
Frozen out on cessation
Old Christmas new world
©David L Atkinson December 2012
I Have To Get It Right
The journey up was uneventful as was getting us ensconced in the empty house at the back of Janice and Jim’s. We identified that the whole family were home. The girls were back from university, probably for the summer break. The house was busy for the next few days; there was always someone in and there were a number of rather official looking visitors turning up.
The story that had been in the newspapers had quietened somewhat, I suppose so that real evidence could be collected. In all honesty once the police started examining the bank accounts they would find evidence against James Thompson. The only real mitigating circumstance he could lean on would be the gambling addiction! I didn’t think that, once the police had found that evidence, they would have any cause to go as deeply as I had done and find a link with Italy.
After a week there was a follow-up article about Jim having been suspended on full pay pending the result of enquiries by his local government department and the police. He wasn’t exactly under house arrest but he didn’t go anywhere for the next few days. Judging by the amount of shouting going on there was a lot of tension in that house. I wouldn’t like to be in there. The older girls spent a lot of time in bed or out late with mates, which is fairly typical student behaviour I think.
Things came to a head on Thursday mid-morning of the second week we had been watching. I was listening in to the microphones planted round the house. Janice had gone out with eldest daughter and Jackie, which left James and Josephine in the house. That wasn’t the way things were planned by the sound of it! There was some serious squawking between Janice and her middle daughter. Another case of middle child syndrome on the face of it! The girl is 19 years old but mother seemed unduly keen to force her to go shopping with the remainder of the girls leaving Jim alone at home! It ended when Josephine stomped upstairs and the rest of them left slamming the door.
From what I could make out there was someone in the kitchen and someone else upstairs. At a guess Jim would be downstairs!
It was at that point I heard something rather strange! Sounded like the front door opening, but there was no knock or bell rung! The next thing I heard was what sounded like popping. To be precise two pops! I knew what it was immediately and bounded out of my chair, down the garden, over the fence and into the house via the kitchen door. That was when I heard the scream! The noise was coming from the hall. That’s where the body was! The late James Thompson was lying face down in a pool of his own blood facing the front door, which was open, with Josephine screaming hysterically. There was no one else around so I called the police on my mobile as I leapt over Josephine and went out of the front door. I was looking for escaping people or vehicles but whoever the perpetrator was had been very slick. It could only be the Italians - they owed no loyalty to Thompson, but there was no sign so I walked quickly round the back of the house through the garden and back to our property. I woke Misaki who had done the last stint of the night shift and told her what had happened. We needed to get away from the area as soon as possible and inform Sumisu. Then we need to change our plans. Suddenly everything had been escalated to another level!
We cleared up all of our equipment and put it in the boot of the car and left. Misaki was driving so I rang and told Sumisu of Thompson’s demise. He simply instructed us to find Janice. What he said was that we needed to stop the Torino family taking Janice and the children out of the country. I pulled over to the side of the road and tried Janice’s mobile. It was engaged! At a guess Josephine was passing on the bad news. They would of course have to return home before anything else could happen. We decided to park up near the front of the house and wait. I drove because it would keep me focused. After all the people I had killed it felt strange to be shaken by the death of someone who could have ended up as another one of my targets! The difference was I had got to know this guy and his family! It was a new experience for me. I also knew that what I had just witnessed, what was a reckless and precipitate act would cause the Italians a massive headache! I had also made a stupid mistake. In an effort to discover what was happening I had just been seen by Josephine, she had never seen me before and probably would never see me again, but I had been careless!
The ramifications of what the assassin had done were as many and convoluted as a plate of spaghetti! Almost certainly it would prevent the Mafia making inroads into this area but that would not stop other sorties in different parts of the UK. It would bring the fraud that had been reported to a head. Finally, the remainder of the Thompson family would find it difficult to stay in Britain. Well certainly Janice/Jacinta would! So it follows that 3 young ladies could be whisked away to foreign climes.
We didn’t have to wait long before Janice, Jackie and Jennifer returned. They couldn’t get near the front of their own house for police cars, crime scene tape and incident vehicles. Shootings at home are not that common in the UK, and particularly not in the north east of England, thank goodness! Janice put her arm round Jennifer’s shoulders and held Jackie’s hand but in herself she looked rather detached. They walked round police cars and scene of crime tape and were ushered round to the kitchen door by a constable. I could only imagine the ‘carnage’ inside! This is going to take a very long time. It will be hours before the body is removed and statements have been taken then we have to assume they will have a fraught time together. There would be no funeral until after an autopsy and inquest. What’s next? Is a huge question! The only thing I am sure of is that the police in some form are going to be around for some while, certainly overnight until they are sure that James was the sole target. Once the fraud accusation comes to light in a few days time they will leave the female Thompson’s alone to grieve their loss.
We went back to our stake out house and set up the listening equipment. Initially, there were lots of where were you at ……..? type questions. Lots of tears and sympathetic noises! We had nothing really to report when Sumisu rang and it was like that for a couple of days. The death was reported in the national dailies with a by line referring to the victim being linked to contract fraud. The press had been at the house since the day of the hit but they were there in more force now. The police were down to one officer in the front porch intended to keep the press away as much as anything. The neighbours must be sick of this situation while trying to feel sympathy for the family. A real dilemma but I had the feeling that all that was going to change fairly soon! There had been a phone call, which Misaki did not understand, and she called me to help, I only caught the very last part of the sentence and it wasn’t in English!
“Misaki we need to keep a very close watch on this family. You ring Sumisu san and get him here as quickly as you can. We need to be ready to move when they do!”
I felt gutted for Josephine as I sat watching the house through my binoculars. Bad enough that Dad was dead, but to be on the scene was probably going to damage her for the rest of her life. I pondered the call to Italy while I sat there. The people there are relatives after all. Why would she not be in touch? On the other hand where would the future take this damaged family unit? Would they all go to the home of the grandparents? Two of the girls were technically adults and in the midst of university courses, the third is a minor and would have to concur with mum’s wishes. If I were a betting man I would think that Mum and the two younger girls would decamp to The Marche! I imagine that Jennifer, in her early twenties, would have almost completed her degree and established a significant circle of friends that she wouldn’t want to leave.
From our point of view it doesn’t really matter who goes where. We don’t need any of them to stay in the country but we do want Janice to give concrete evidence to the police about the fraud and the presence of the Mafia in the northeast. As yet she has not given a statement at the police station.
“Misaki san,” I said.
“Hai Patrick. What is it!” she asked.
I could listen to her speak all day. Like a small stream gurgling over loose stones in its bed. Restful, light and hypnotic!
“Misaki,” all formality forgotten, “I think the family will move tonight.”
“Why is that Patrick?” she queried.
“They will only get into deeper questioning the longer they stay and that will lead to longer detention!” I explained. “It could lead to bigger problems for Janice, which in turn is going to create problems for the youngest daughter!”
“You could be right Patrick. Do you really think they will move tonight?” she asked.
“I think we should be ready!” I replied.
That evening we decided to split. Misaki was to stay where she is in the empty house listening to microphones and watching through night glasses, and I planned to be in the car round the front of Thompson’s house. In preparation we decided to catch some sleep during the afternoon. I felt that the policeman round the front would keep the situation stable until after dark. It would be then if something was going to happen. The day was dry and clear and the night was expected to be the same.
As it was approaching the longest day the hours of darkness would be quite short. It would be dark around 10.30pm and light again by 04.30am giving a shorter window to escape unnoticed. There was also the policeman but I expect that the ladies may have help to deal with him. The officers have had a fairly comfortable time of it this far so it is my assumption that they are not at the highest level of alertness.
The next question is where would they go? If they were going to Italy would they go by air? If so which airport? Once they were discovered missing, airports, ports and railway stations would be watched. Getting a scheduled flight in the middle of the night would be impossible so it would have to be a private jet, which they could probably afford, maybe from some provincial airfield. Perhaps they had planned a possible escape by rail or sea? Definitely an option! Newcastle docks were close – half an hour in the middle of the night.
It was a clear, warm dusk when I eased the car round to the small cul-de-sac on the opposite side of the street to the Thompson residence. There was a police panda car parked outside the house and a female officer sat inside. I reversed into the drive of another empty house and sat quietly watching the policewoman. She didn’t look my way and if she had noticed me it would have been in her rear view mirror as I pulled into this short street. The house looked quiet; there were some lights on and some curtains/blinds drawn. I settled down in my seat and watched very carefully. Misaki and I had arranged to call one another every hour to keep each other alert. It was my turn at eleven and I apprised Misaki of the situation. While I was speaking to her Janice came out of the house in her robe carrying a mug. Coffee for the copper! I cut off from Misaki and watched the two women chat for a minute or two and then Janice went back inside. For the next hour various lights came on and went out until eventually the house was in darkness. Misaki called at midnight to say that all was in darkness round the back.
I glanced at the police car a few minutes later and realised I couldn’t see the police constable!
“What on earth…..?” I said aloud.