PLUTO’S CHILD


    By DJ

 

                                                   

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

 

 

 

Peter came closer. “They're safe as long as you behave yourself. They're in a warehouse along the river; Munante’s yacht is moored off Southend and, as soon as we board her, the hostages will be released." Gypsy felt Peter touch him, a hand creeping gently inside the anorak he had lifted from the unconscious reporter.

 

 

Gypsy stepped back a pace and came up against the doors. "Keep your hands off me, Peter. Munante doesn’t like crabs like you nibbling the bait."

 

 

Peter laughed softly but his hands fell to his sides. "You need bringing up to date, Emilio Gomez. Since my Uncle-in-law's untimely encounter with a certain anonymous informer, Munante and I are now partners. So, you'd better be nice to me."

 

 

Gypsy sneered at his old antagonist. “I know Munante's ways; he never shares anything with anyone. He will use you as he used your uncle; as the front man to take the blame if anything goes wrong."

 

 

"Oh, you do know such a lot don't you? Which means it must have been you who went snooping round Uncle's James’s house."

 

 

"It didn’t take much to add things up, Peter. It won't take you very long, either, to reason why your Uncle is in jail and Munante isn't. I don’t think Munante will lend a hand to get him out; your uncle is on his own."

 

 

With a curse Peter reached out to switch on the cabin lights then pinned Gypsy against the bulkhead with a hand round his throat. "No-one uses a MacCaffrey, and no-one uses me either. I've given Munante valuable service over the years and he owes me a sizeable reward. I'm going with Marcus, back to Tamarigo, and I'm going to have the greatest of pleasure making you pay for turning my father against me and causing his death.”

 

 

“I didn’t cause his death; and you turned him against you yourself.”

 

 

Peter pushed his face close to Gypsy's, his mouth curling into a snarl. "You caused his death. You should have stayed away from him. If you had, I wouldn't have tried to kill you. The bullet that killed my father was meant for your stinking heart; and you are going to pay, first at Munante’s hands then at mine, and I am going to make you scream and wish that bullet had ripped out your heart and not my father's.”

 


 

 

 

As Pete let him go, Gypsy sagged slightly against the door, stunned at first with the shock of Peter's confession, then weak with rel­ief that, at last, he knew the truth about Tony's death. Pete stepped away from him, and Gypsy turned away to limp over to the right hand bunk. He sat down and tried to collect his shattered thoughts together. He just hoped the wire he had been urged to wear had picked up Peter’s confession, and whoever was listening on the other end, could act as quickly as they had promised. But Munante also had an in­former, possibly in the police force, and that meant Erica might still die. What else could he do anyway with Peter standing over him? Gypsy knew Peter was longing desperately to take up where he left off after Tony had caught him and his friends. Gypsy hoped the fear of Munante's wrath would prevent him. Even if Gypsy overpowered Peter, and that was doubtful in his condition, there were three burly crew­men to contend with. Then there would be the swim to safety. With his back giving him toothache, he doubted if he could make it. He was trapped, but did he really care? “Tell me, Pete, where are you holding Lorna and my baby prisoner? You might as well tell me; I can’t do anything about it, can I?”

 

 

“I’m telling you nothing.”

 

 

An idea began to form in Gypsy’s mind. Okay, do it your way. I’ll still find out. Which warehouse, Peter? Think about it. He probed Peter's mind, willing him to form a mental picture of Lorna's prison and its location. Slowly it appeared.  A derelict waterfront warehouse; down river. Now, you bastard, cough up the crooked copper. Come on, Peter, can you trust him? Didn't Munante teach you not to trust anyone?

 

 

 

In Barney’s car, in the car park at Cannon Street Station, Sandy pressed his fingers to his temples. “I'm getting’ a picture of a warehouse. It’s a deserted place... very old...on the river...that’s where Erica’s bein’ eld; and the kidnapper is someone called Toddy."

 

 

Barney whipped round in his seat and stared at him. "Toddy! Short for Inspector Todd! Christ! No wonder Derek's life was in danger." He looked at Manuel. "You were right not to go to the police! As for the warehouse, it could be anywhere”

 

 

At that moment, someone knocked on the driver’s door of the car. Barney’s eyes grew wide with surprise as a familiar face peered in.  Barney lowered his window down. “Rudkin? How the hell did you know where to find us?”

 

 

“I followed my nose, mate. Now, if you lot would like to step out of the car, I’d like to introduce you to someone.”

 

 

“Is it important? We’re trying to keep tabs on Gypsy.”

 

 

“Yes, it’s important.”

 

 

They got out of the car and first thing Sandy said, when he saw who was with Rudkin, was, “What the ‘ell is ‘e doin’ ‘ere?”

 

 

Rudkin smiled and drew the man closer. “Gentlemen, allow me to introduce my mole. Detective Sergeant Sean Higgson.”

 

 

Sandy’s jaw dropped as Sean blinked at them. “Sorry for the deception, folks; I’ve been working undercover for Inspector Rudkin ever since Gypsy came to the Rosscroft. His orders were to blend into the background; to observe and report. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Sorry I couldn’t tell you anything when you grabbed me, I was under orders not to.”

 

 

Rudkin chuckled. “Modest cove, isn’t he? I guarantee he is a fully qualified nurse practitioner as well as a trained bodyguard. Gypsy has never been in any real danger while Sean’s been around, except for that run in with Jimmy boy and a flight of steps. What you didn’t know was that Jimmy Boy had made sure Sean was somewhat inconvenienced by a crack on the head in the men’s room. When he came to, it was all over. What we can tell you is that Gypsy knew about Sean working for me, and was under the same order, to keep silent.”

 

 

“But why, for heaven’s sake?” Barney stormed.

 

 

“Simple. You were reporting direct to Inspector Todd, whom I’ve been keeping tabs on for a good few years but couldn’t put my mitts on him. I had to go underground with Gypsy and my mole, here, and Sean’s role as nursemaid put Toddy right off the scent. Sean put a wire on Gypsy before he left the house.” Rudkin touched an ear piece in his right ear. What we’ve learned so far is that Toddy is going to make it look as if he's had a tip off and will lead a raid on the warehouse when he gets word from a guy called Munante that Gypsy has boarded his yacht, so Lorna and Erica will still be in danger from Toddy till the yacht is out of British Territorial waters. Then we can move in and nab Toddy."

 

 

“Why wait till then?” Manuel asked.

 

 

“Because we don’t know yet, which warehouse they’re being held in.”

 

 

Sandy’s eyes glazed over for a moment. “Yes we do. I can take you to it, but not from landside. I ‘ave to be on the river to see what Gypsy saw.”

 

 

Rudkin’s eyes popped. “Gypsy’s telling you, isn’t he? I never really believed in all that psychic stuff till I met Gypsy.”

 

 

Sandy nodded.  “I can't explain it either. Why don’t we get to the warehouse ahead of Toddy and nab him in the act of springing the girls?”

 

 

Rudkin shook his head at Sandy. “You’re doing it again lad.”

 

 

Sandy stared back at him. “What?”

 

“Doing my job.”

 

 

 

Two drunken louts giggled as they rowed the little boat along the river. One of them lifted a bottle and drank from it then passed it to the other.  To anyone watching, they were just two students out on the river for a bit of fun. Someone had contacted the river police and told them politely, to let them be.

 

 

Sean leaned over to hand the bottle of coloured water back to Sandy, “See anything yet?”

 

 

Sandy lolled back on his seat and almost lost his oar. He closed his eyes. "Gypsy’s ­approachin’ the place, right now. He's seein’ the dark mass of a transporter to ‘is left goin’ under Tower Bridge...he feels Lorna very strong now...to his right... in a big dark buildin’. The name on the front of it is B...U...T...L … can’t make the rest of the letters. Some of them ‘ave faded too much. Lets’ get closer.” They rowed on for a few more minutes and were almost capsized by a tug going under Tower Bridge. “There, over there, see it?”

 

 

Sean spoke into the mike taped under his jacket. “Butler’s Wharf. It’s a go.”

 

 

 

Sitting in the police van parked by his car, Barney stiffened as he listened in to Rudkin’s radio. "Butler's Warf! My God! It's a rat-infested rabbit warren.  They filmed Oliver Twist on location there, many years ago."

 

 

“Well, the first thing we do is to contact someone we can trust on the force.” Rudkin said as he switched channels. “You remember the Superintendent who gave evidence at Gypsy's trial? He's been look­ing for Munante for years. He's a chief' now, still with the vice squad and he'd give his right arm to be the one to catch Munante.”

 

 

“What about Todd?” Barney asked.

 

 

“Nailing Toddy at the same time will be an extra bonus."

 

 

Minutes later, Rudkin was talking on the phone to Detective Chief Superintendent Duckwell at his home in Finchley..,

 

 

 

 

Gypsy felt a tiredness deeper than he had ever felt before. He lay down on the bunk and let the gentle rolling of' the launch relax him. Of his enemies MacCaffrey, Jerry and Bev had been dealt with along with Brian. That left Munante and Peter, and Gypsy sensed even then that Munante’s freedom would soon end. He had a vision of police cars rushing to Southend and a fast patrol launch heading out to sea under cover of darkness with armed police on board; but would they be quick enough? Munante’s boat might be big, but it would be difficult to find him in the dark unless they got their helicopters out; but what of Peter? Cunning man that he was, the minute he learned the yacht had been raided he would scuttle down the nearest sewer and be lost forever. Gypsy had to stop him somehow.

 

 

The bumping of the launch against something hard brought Gypsy out of his doze. Peter was there, urging him to get up off the bunk. He took him by the arm and forced him out onto the deck. A cold wind hit Gypsy in the face, causing him to squint. In the moonless dark, a massive metal wall loomed over the launch, and a gangway came into view, slowly descending down the side of the bigger ship. Peter shoved him towards it, forcing him to climb up the slowly rocking gangway and onto the deck above. Peter lost no time in marching him down into Munante’s staterooms, and there he came face to face with his nemesis.

 

 

Dressed in a robe of red and black silk, his hair hidden in a matching turban, he looked no different to when Gypsy had last seen him; a little grayer in the beard perhaps. “Hello Marcus.”

 

 

Munante smiled his delight and came forward to place his hands on Gypsy’s shoulders. “Hello, my dear, dear Emilio. It is so good to see you.”

 

 

“Sorry I can’t say the same about you. I made a bargain, and I hope you will keep your part of it. And by the way, I don’t answer to Emilio anymore; it’s Mr. Diaz to you.”

 

 

Munante’s smile lost some of its warmth as he looked over his shoulder at Peter. “Have them released.”

 

 

Peter glared at Munante, “Just like that? He’s a rich man and I want what’s mine. He’ll make himself a pauper to get his kid back.”

 

 

“Enough!” Gypsy felt Munante’s fingers dig into his shoulders as he roared at Peter. “I made a bargain and I will honour it.”

 

 

“But-.”

 

 

“You caused your own downfall, you spoilt brat. We will talk about your problems later. Now, make the phone call.”

 

 

Gypsy watched as Peter slouched to the gold plated phone on Munante’s huge desk. Peter picked up the receiver, spoke softly into it, smiled at Gypsy, and said, “Kill them.”

 

 

“NOOOOOO!” It wasn’t Gypsy who screamed but Munante as he let go of Gypsy and charged across the room. Peter stood there laughing his head of while Gypsy stood rooted to the spot in shock. Munante grabbed Peter and threw him across the room, went after him, picked him up and hit him again and again, not with his fists but with claw-like fingernails that left bloody marks across his victims face. Gypsy watched in horror as Peter staggered away, screaming, with his hands to his face. The wounds were deep and the blood flowed from them, through his fingers and onto his snow-white shirt. Munante stumbled to the desk and picked up the phone. Todd? Todd, are you there?” After a few seconds he replaced the receiver and turned to Gypsy, his eyes brimming with tears. “Gypsy, I am so sorry. I never meant to hurt your family. Todd isn’t answering the phone any more. I can’t stop him.”

 

 

Gypsy felt nothing but emptiness as he limped to the nearest chair and sank into it. He couldn’t believe Lorna was dead, or that he would never hold his baby in his arms again. No, it wasn’t happening. He was in some kind of nightmare and he would soon wake up in bed with Lorna at his side, and Erica scrawling all over the bed, trying to get between them. He closed his eyes to blank everything out, and didn’t notice Munante kneel before him. He felt hands on his knees and opened his eyes. It was all so horribly real.

 

 

He saw something in Munante’s eyes that he had seen a long time ago, when Munante first told him that he loved him He thought about all the kids that had been brought to the Paradise Club; how Munante had cared for them, even though he pretended to be the cruel master. And Gypsy refused to believe this man could be so heartless, so devoid of feeling, that he would kill an innocent child? “Tell, me Marcus, were you behind all the bad stuff that went on in the Paradise Club.”

 

 

With Peter whimpering in the background, Marcus shook his head and said, “Never. I was under orders. The MacCaffreys had me by the throat. They still do, and Peter is about to become lord of the MacCaffrey Empire, unless we can stop him.”

 

 

“I believe you; but I want you to promise me you never personally hurt a child.”

 

 

“Never.”

 

 

“What about the guards?”

 

 

“They had their orders from elsewhere. They had their own agenda.”

 

 

“And the torture?”

 

 

Munante shook his head again. “The MacCaffreys controlled everything, and they have a woman in charge of that. She’s called the Torturer.”

 

 

“Can you describe her?”

 

 

“She was very young, about eighteen. Tall, peroxide blonde; very beautiful. She used to train the guards somewhere in Scotland then send them over to Tamarigo. She certainly knew how to torture the young.”

 

 

“So how did you become a tool of the MacCaffreys? I can’t believe it was just a school liaison.”

 

 

“I assure you it was just that. Back then, I was an oversexed Arab let loose on the decadent Western world. James MacCaffrey took advantage of that. He offered a carrot I could not resist. Can you forgive me?”

 

 

Strangely, Gypsy found he could. Even though he had been his jailor, Munante had treated him with nothing but kindness. Despite Gypsy’s efforts to resist his advances, Munante had been a great lover, and the sex had been an education even if the pupil had been a reluctant one. “Yes, Marcus, I can. And I can honestly stand up in a court of law and swear on the Bible that I never once saw you personally hurt any of the kids in your care. Even when I was hostile to you, you never hurt me; why?”

 

 

Munante chuckled softly. “I could never have hurt you. Caroga would have torn me to pieces. But how can you forgive me for the loss of your family?”

 

 

Gypsy closed his eyes and thought of Lorna and his baby. Two babies! Why two babies? His eyes shot open and he said in a whisper, “They’re not dead. Marcus, they’re all right.”

 

 

Munante frowned at him. “How can you know?”

 

 

“I’m the seventh son of a seventh son, of a seventh son. Go figure.”

 

 

“You’re a gypsy?”

 

 

“One hundred percent.”

 

 

“So tell me. What else do you see?”

 

 

Gypsy laughed. “That I’m going to be a dad again.” Sobering up, he added, “I see nothing but calm and love.” He closed his eyes again and relaxed in the chair. He saw a man in police uniform with lots of braid on the visor of his hat, sitting in the back of a police car, in handcuffs. He saw Sandy shepherding Lorna into a waiting ambulance, followed by Manuel carrying a blanket wrapped bundle. “They’re safe,” he whispered, and he felt Munante leave him in a rush. He opened his eyes and found Munante and Peter in a violent struggle for possession of a knife. Gypsy tried to get up to help Munante but a pain, like nothing he had felt before, tore down is legs. Helpless, he watched as Munante’s hand lost its grip on the knife and Peter plunged it into Munante. This time is was Gypsy’s turn to scream, “NOOOOOOO!”