Leo and Mike would have quite liked to forget the body in the river, and the teenagers with the weird women, but life wasn’t going to let them do that.
The first intimation of this came when they had a visit from a very smooth operator with an educated Transatlantic accent rendered oddly theatrical by more than a whiff of trailer trash in his vowels. He looked like everyone’s mental image of the archetypal WASP from his smooth blonde hair to his horn-rimmed spectacles, and his Brooks Brothers brogues. He introduced himself as the Reverend Amos Summersby, and stated his reason for visiting was to thank them for their care of the girls. But it didn’t ring true. While he drank tea and ate Ro’s excellent fruit cake Mike could feel him watching her from the corners of his eyes. It was a feeling she didn’t much relish. It wasn’t to go on for long, though, because Leo put a stop to it with uncompromising savagery.
‘Keep your eyes off my woman’ he snarled ‘or I’ll pull them out and make you eat them.’
Summersby recoiled in genuine surprise. ‘That is not what I have come to expect from an English gentleman’ he said in a voice of gentle reproof.
Leo was scathing. ‘I’m neither English nor a gentleman. And I don’t make idle threats. So just say whatever it is you came here to say and leave while you still have the use of your legs.’
Summersby’s fear appeared to Mike to be the first genuine thing in his visit; all the colour left his cheeks and he floundered about in a morass of half-sentences.
‘Hurry up, man. You are wearing my patience thin.’
‘Very well. I was simply instructed to find out what those naughty little girls may have said about their school.’
‘To us. Nothing’ Leo bit the words off sharply. ‘We noticed they didn’t much care for their keepers but that was just ordinary observation.’
‘And yet the police wouldn’t let the girls return to school in the minibus?’
‘I would suspect that is standard procedure. They had, after all, just discovered themselves to be swimming with a dead body. I’m sure that’s exactly what a group of teenage girls needs to make a camping trip complete.’ Leo’s sarcasm was biting.
The ‘reverend’ stared into Leo’s angry eyes, then sighed.
‘I fear we have been misinformed. Will you accept my apology?’
Leo looked at Mike, who shook her head.
‘No. Now we’d very much appreciate the air you are using.’
Ro appeared as if she had been listening at the door (which she probably had) and escorted the uninvited visitor to where his car waited in the street.
‘Nasty piece of work that is’ she said when she returned. Then she sat and poured herself a cup of tea. Leo raised an eyebrow.
‘I found stuff out.’
‘The ‘church’ calls itself The Apostolic Gospel of The Lord. It seems to have originated in America. No surprise there, but what is surprising is that they now have control of three schools in the UK. There’s one in Somerset and two in Greater London, and the police are quite interested in them because there is some question of providing underage girls for a form of ‘marriage’. Or so I’m told.’
‘And how did you get told?’
She grinned. ‘Sex. That’s how I get told most things. Wasn’t even unpleasant.’
Mike laughed in genuine amusement. ‘Ro. You are bad! Who?’
‘A detective from the smoke. His name would mean nothing to you even if I could be arsed to remember it. But a combination of a blow job and a bottle of Ma’s sloe gin got him to part with all of his knowledge of the subject.’
‘You really should be careful’ Leo put in. ‘You can’t just go around importuning coppers for information.’
Ro grinned. ‘You’re right. I can’t. But I didn’t. He started it. I was helping out at the chippy when this long streak of piss comes in and gets all flirty. Uncle Bob gives me the high sign he’s a copper, so I agree to meet him for a drink. I reckon he still thinks he weaselled info out of me.’