Enquiries hadn’t been at all fruitful. There was no-one at the other half of the divided house that Rose had lived in. Someone – himself maybe – would have to call back later, probably after working hours, to catch the owner in. He’d interviewed people in the two nearest houses they’d got answers to their knocks and rings, but in both cases questioning had turned up nothing. There wasn’t even any gossip. Not about Rose, not about any of the neighbours, and at neither house had they noticed anything unusual the previous evening. Maybe enquiries further from the house might reveal some small thing that might help them, but Jon doubted it. He decided to leave the initial interviews to the small team that had been assembled back at the station, and that was now starting to arrive. If one of the team did turn up something that might be of interest, he could always return to interview the provider a second time himself.
He was conscious that he really had two goals. To apprehend Gomez for the murder of Rose and for the attempted murder of Riaz – the Fire Officer still hadn’t confirmed the explosion had been deliberate, but Jon had no doubt now that he would eventually – and to find Riaz before Gomez did. If he failed in this second task, he was sure that instead he’d be investigating two murders instead of one.
Someone had to get down to LHR, his destination before he got the call about Rose, to see if anything could be turned up from that direction. That needed to be done fairly quickly. The chances of anyone remembering anything of use were already slim at best. Delaying still further would more or less make it certain to be a waste of time. He could have sent one of the junior members of the team down to do the task. Now that he had the DCI’s support it would have been easy to do. Still, the team was quite small, and if he pulled someone off of the Rose Dawkins investigation to try to find Riaz he’d probably have to fill the hole created himself. He also had no doubt that most of the team would see it as a far less glamorous task to be trying to find Riaz than being part of the team directly investigating a murder. So he might as well pick up the LHR assignment himself.
A few hours later, after a lot of walking around and talking had delivered not even the hint of a reward, he had to wonder if he’d really made the right choice. Still, he’d also used the trip down to the airport to visit the team that had sent him the original information on Gomez and Martinez and to thank them for it. His visit to them was really as much to ensure future assistance as anything. He did take the opportunity to view for himself the recording they’d found. It didn’t tell him anything new.
Travelling back on the Piccadilly Line train though, he’d taken a call from Central Control. Riaz had been flagged again, checking into a small hotel by King’s Cross. He’d go straight there. The train he was already on would deliver him, although it was starting to get crowded. His visit to the airport had taken most of the remaining day and by the time he was heading back people were beginning their evening commutes home.
It was already darkening by the time he emerged into the busy King’s Cross station and left it to find the hotel, located in one of the streets opposite.
The hotel was little more than two adjoining houses really. He flashed his warrant card at the man sat behind the reception desk, which obviously doubled as the man’s office and would have been a lounge or dining room when the house was first built. He told the man who he was looking for and was directed to room number twelve which lay on the first floor up a narrow staircase. It smelled freshly decorated and a tiny smattering of the same magnolia paint which covered the walls was also evident on the darker brown carpet which ran up the staircase. It lay on either side of the main thoroughfare, obviously not brushed off when it was vacuumed. He reached the door to the room, a white affair with rectangles and squares on its surface, and knocked.
“Minute, please,” came a voice from the other side followed shortly afterwards by the door opening.
Riaz didn’t seem particularly surprised to see him. Perhaps he’d been expecting such a visit. He was invited in, though the room was pretty much fully occupied by the bed that lay in its middle. There was a small dressing table with a hair in front of it, and Formica bedside drawers which doubled as tables. Although it was cramped, Jon thought it better to talk in the privacy of this room, rather than using the seating back in the Reception area where their conversation would be overheard by the man working there.
He tried to talk to Riaz in Worlderin. His efforts weren’t good. It wasn’t a language he’d studied formally but rather his own attempts to learn. Understanding its basic grammar was easy enough for speakers of English, though even here there were one or two things to remember. The vocabulary was more or less the same too, simplified English really, though there were a few new words he had to remember to use.
He started by explaining who he was and why he was looking for Riaz. He’d done this at the door of course, backing up his verbal assertions with the warrant card he always carried with him. He offered Riaz his phone, so the man could call Jon’s switchboard to verify he was who he claimed to be. The offer alone seemed to assure Riaz this was the case, and he elected not to do so.
Once Riaz had relaxed a bit, apparently feeling somewhat safer now that the law had got involved, Jon asked why he’d run away in the first place instead of waiting at the scene. Panic, was the simple reply. He’d guessed straight away that it was a bomb and didn’t want to hang around in case the person – or persons – responsible came back to check their handiwork. Jon understood, though this didn’t explain why Riaz hadn’t gone to the police later once he’d left the scene. He said as much to Riaz.
With a somewhat sheepish look Riaz admitted that it was pretty much for the reasons Jon had expected. Someone had given away Riaz’s location to Fuente’s men. He simply didn’t trust that it hadn’t been a police officer, or that a similar betrayal might follow surrendering himself to their care. From the look he gave Jon, this was still something he didn’t trust.
He’d sought refuge at first with Rose but after she’d left him to go to work he’d begun to think that her flat would be one of the first places Fuente’s men would look once they realised their attempt hadn’t been successful. He realised too that by staying there he was drawing her into the same danger that he was facing. That was why he’d not returned to her flat after leaving. He didn’t want to go back in case Fuente’s stooges were already on to the address. He intended returning her key at work, after a few days had passed. He waved a key as he spoke as if in support of this assertion.
“Well, you haven’t been exactly difficult for me to find.” He spoke almost reproachfully to Riaz. “I doubt Fuente’s men will have a much harder time of it. We’d better get you somewhere a bit safer, as soon as possible.”
The fact that he’d apparently been so easily traced both to the U.K. and from there to his small flat, left Jon in no doubt of that. Pointing this out to Riaz was probably the deal clincher and the man agreed to return with Jon to the station, and from there to somewhere a bit more secure than his current location.
He telephoned to request transport, and to let his bosses know he’d found the man he’d been looking for. Now they had both the intended victim and a lead, no matter how tenuous, on the person trying to kill him, they’d be taking a far greater interest.
He continued to question Riaz while they waited for a car to arrive. His questions were probing and quite deep but he kept a light-hearted conversational tone. Riaz didn’t even realise he was being questioned. It seemed he’d telephoned to his brother back home in Bolivia. He’d also transferred his small savings back there to his new account in the U.K. One or both of these actions would probably account for Fuente’s men being able to trace him. He’d been told to sever ties completely and hadn’t done so. Now he was paying the price for his mistakes.
The car that would take them back to the station arrived soon after Jon had learned this, and he didn’t get any further opportunities to continue his questions. He hoped that Gomez hadn’t learned this location already. Questions had revealed that not only had Riaz ID’d himself with the chip implanted in his finger, he’d also paid for the room using his debit card. If Jon was right, and they now had his account details, tracking him to this small hotel would only take a very short time.
He was pretty much caught up in his own thoughts as he led Riaz to the car. He didn’t cover him with a blanket, or in the tattered coat that the man wore. Doing so would have attracted even more unwanted attention than not doing, and if this movement was being observed would tell Gomez who was underneath just as surely as recognising a face would. The odds of the police leading two different men from this establishment were too small to even calculate.
He’d found Riaz and he’d be safe enough once they got him back to the station. That was the primary goal of their efforts. They still wanted to catch Gomez to see he was properly punished for setting off the bomb that could easily have hurt or killed other innocent and unrelated victims, as well as Riaz himself. The photographs and other details they had on Gomez were pointing them in the right direction but by themselves it was unlikely they’d lead to an arrest. They’d need another break in the case for that to happen.
Wondering just what to do next filled his thoughts as he held open the rear door of the car for Riaz to climb in.