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Autocratrix

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The front doorstep of Gene Hunt's semi-detached house was the last place Sam had ever expected to find himself on a Saturday morning, but here he was, shifting uneasily from foot to foot, clutching a file folder close to his chest. He'd been trying for two days to come up with a good reason to visit Gene's house, or rather Gene's house's garage. Sam leaned out sideways in a vain attempt to see the garage, set further back from the house, without actually leaving the neutral ground of the doorstep. He swung back quickly as he noticed the neighbour's chintz curtains twitching. Nothing for it, he was going to have to ring the doorbell.

Sam could hear muffled cursing that was becoming clearer by the moment as a slightly fuzzy Gene shaped object appeared behind the frosted glass of the front door. The door was wrenched open, bringing Sam face to face with Gene, who was dressed only in a vest, black polyester trousers and some black and brown tartan slippers with small brown pompoms on the front.

"So yer taste in footwear doesn't peak with the loafers, Guv?"

"Present from the Missus. What are you doing here, Tyler?"

Gene still had one hand on the door, his body guarding the entrance into the house.

"I've been doing more research on Lawson."

"Right. You best come in then." Gene stepped aside. "Go down the hall all the way to the back. It's the kitchen. I just made tea."

Gene closed the door behind Sam and followed him down the hall. Sam fought the urge to walk across the kitchen and stare out of the window. Instead he came to a halt by the green formica table and waited, as Gene poured tea into two mugs, adding milk and sugar without asking Sam.

"Sit down."

Sam sat down, still clutching the folder to his chest.

"If you keep doing that with the paperwork Tyler, people are going to talk."

"What?"

Gene sat down and sipped his tea. "Christ knows those are the places you really wouldn't want paper cuts" he muttered to himself. Sam put the folder down on the table and picked up his tea.

"So what have you got Sherlock?"

"Lawson's got a girlfriend."

"Sherry. Everybody knows about Sherry. He wouldn't risk everything to see her."

"All right then. How about his son?"

Gene looked at Sam like he'd just pulled a rabbit out of his arse. "I didn't know Lawson's got a kid."

Sam opened the folder, carefully smoothing out the pages within. "Turned it up in an old arrest report. The boy lives with Sherry's mam."

The back door opened. "Guv I got the polish and I'm dying for—" Annie stopped dead, mid-sentence. She was dressed casually in jeans and a faded Rolling Stones tee shirt.

"Tea's in the pot Annie. Why don't you pour yerself one and get on with it. We're talking about a case."

"Right Guv. Hello Sam."

"Annie."

She crossed awkwardly to the tea pot, poured herself a mug and went back out into the garden.

"Guv, what's Annie doing here?" Sam clutched at the edge of the table. "You're not—"

"Give over. She likes to work on the Cortina. Reminds her of her Dad."

"The Cortina?"

"Working on it, you daft pillock."

"It?"

"Well Annie doesn't have to know about Tina. She just likes to wash and polish her and it saves me some work. Everybody's happy."

"Just how happy?"

"Christ Tyler, yer not suggesting?"

"Well, with Tina's track record—"

"Don't talk about her like that!" Gene stood up suddenly, his chair falling to the ground.

"Right Guv. Sorry!"

Gene stood there for a moment, flexing his hands, before he turned and walked over to the window and stared out of it. "Annie does look happy."

Sam got slowly to his feet and tried to walk slowly over to the window.

The Cortina was parked in front of the open garage doors. Annie was slowly running a wet sponge across the Cortina, the sudsy water glistening against the bronze paintwork. As they watched, Annie leaned in closer to the door, pressing her breasts against the side window. Both men drew heavy breaths.

"You might have a point at that, Tyler."

Sam tried not to think too hard about the point he was currently having.

"I always thought it took Annie a long time to clean inside the car."

Sam risked a glance at Gene's face. Gene was grinning from ear to ear.

"So you're prepared to kill me, to kill Ray, but it's all right for Annie to—"

Gene didn't even turn to look at him, just kept watching as Annie pressed her hips into the car, wriggling slightly, as she reached over to clean the roof.

"What man doesn't get the horn over two women—"

"That's one woman, one car Guv, and that's about as perverted as—"

"A man wanking over a car repair manual?"

Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to remember when exactly his life had become so complicated. Well first you were run over by a car and woke up… Right. Remember why you're here. Sam stared into the back of garage. No models. So he doesn't keep them here.

"Pour yerself some more tea, Tyler. I'll finish getting dressed and we'll go and look for Lawson."

 

00000

 

They'd spoken to Sherry's mam. From her choice of Anglo-Saxon phrases used to describe Lawson, it had become apparent that she didn't like him much. She'd even asked Gene for Gene's phone number in case Lawson should show up to see his son.

Gene and Sam had climbed silently back into the Cortina. Again, Sam had been stared down by Gene as he'd attempted to grab the handle as Gene pulled away at speed.

"Buggering hell!"

"What's the matter Guv?"

"The car won't turn."

Sam had been staring out of the window, but now realized they hadn't made the right turn off for his flat.

"Sorry Guv. Do you have any idea where she's taking us?"

"I think I do."

The Cortina ended up stopping outside the doors of an old factory building a couple of streets over from the canal.

"What are we doing here, Guv?" It would be the perfect place to dispose of a body.

"Get out Tyler." Gene dug into his pocket and handed Sam a key on a PC McGarry key ring. "Open the door. You wanted to know about yer model. Apparently Tina wants you to know too."

Sam unlocked the padlock and rolled back the doors. Gene drove the Cortina inside, speaking to Sam through the rolled down window. "Shut the doors, fast!"

As Sam pulled the doors closed behind them, the Cortina honked a couple of times.

At the back of the warehouse, Sam could suddenly see eight round lights turn on, low to the ground. Sam stepped in front of the Cortina to get a better look.

"Careful, Tyler!" Gene yelled from inside the Cortina.

The sudden sound of revving engines, like angry lawnmowers, accompanied three small model Cortina's hurtling toward Sam at break neck speed, with a larger one following more sedately in the rear. As Sam stood still in shock, the models slammed on their brakes at the last moment, fishtailing into his legs, knocking him heavily to the floor. Sam sat there, arse on the cold concrete, staring at the four little cars revving their motors, two of the smaller ones butting constantly at his feet.

Test Card Girl is going to need to get a much scarier clown.