Barker 1 – Time Off?

HTML clipboardI had decided to have a week or so off, starting with a weekend doing nothing apart from chilling out with L and going for a drink at lunchtime with a couple of pals and then a meal out.  Sunday I was going to have a lie in and then have a leisurely breakfast of croissant, pain aux raisin and coffee.  Read the Sunday papers, swearing at the world and the useless twats that run it,  followed by a late relaxed lunch of roast beef, roast spuds Yorkshires thick onion gravy and a bottle of red before putting y feet up in front of the telly to watch “Rome” Which my mate Billy had bought me for my birthday and had told me was the dogs bollocks.

Bt 10.30am on Saturday my relaxed weekend was not looking so good.

Poor old L had woken up feeling sick and had in fact been rather tom and dick and had gone back to bed.  I was slurping a cup of Earl Grey and crunching a piece of toast when my work mobile rang.  I was tempted to ignore it, but it was Cyclops and he would only ring me if it was something really pressing.

“Sorry to bother you Norm” said Cyclops all apologetically “but a bloke called Dave Barker is trying to get hold of you – says he has been looking for you high and low.”

“Dave Barker? are you sure?” I said spitting toast crumbs all over the table.  I have to confess to being somewhat taken aback

“Yeah” said Cyclops ” I’m certain, he’s left me a number” and he gave me a mobile number.  “Norm is it OK, you sound a little off”

“I tell you what Cyclops, I’m a bit shocked really.  Yes, I know this  bloke because he served with me quite a while ago in Northern Ireland, but I don’t know him, know him if you get my drift.  He was alright, as I remember, a  bit headstrong.”

“A para headstrong.  Fuck me, that’s a bit of a shocker” interrupted Cyclops.  I laughed

“Yeah, well, anyway he suddenly upped and left.  No rhyme or reason, just said he had enough and was on his way.  A week or so later SIB were poking about and asking questions about him but wouldn’t say about what exactly.  Anyway about 18 months later, he apparently disappeared without a trace, and as far as I know hasn’t been heard of since.”

“When you say disappeared, what do you mean?” asked Cyclops

“Well, just that.  Apparently he vanished into thin air – not a trace anywhere.  Not long after he left us he went into the modplod (MOD Police) and then joined the MET.  I suppose he must have been out for 18 months, maybe two years when SIB came around again to see if anyone in the the unit had heard from him and what did we know about him, you know, habits, politics an other what they called “background” stuff.  As I said, I was overseas at the time when all this was going on.   Only that he had done a few ops with me and did what he was told.  Not a great bloke, but not the worst by any means either.”

Cyclops muttered a knowing noise.

“Actually at the time, there was some talk after the second SIB visit as to whether or not we thought he might have been batting for the other side”

“What, gay?” asked Cyclops

“No you prawn, you know the sort of cold war spy under the bed thing.  Mind you, he might have been gay, just can’t tell and to be honest, it’s not the sort of environment where you were likely to come out and get a sympathetic ear.  I didn’t really get involved, as I was deployed elsewhere at the time.  Haven’t heard hide nor hair of him since he left really and to be honest I had forgotten all about him and really there is no reason why I should hear from him.  I mean, its not as if we were great mates or anything.”

“No I suppose not” agreed Cyclops “So why do you think he has contacted you then?”

“No idea, maybe he wants to come in from the cold or maybe he remembers my firm taut buttocks”

We both laughed.  “Here Cyclops, I don’t suppose he said where he was, did he?”

“Nah sorry, he just said he had got the office number from somebody but he didn’t say who.”   That in itself is a bit odd but not so odd as to cause any real alarm bells to ring.

“I’ll give him a bell and see what he wants and if necessary I’ll get back to you.”   We said our goodbyes and rang off.

I rang the number and it was answered immediately by a man.

“Yes” he snapped.

“Mr Barker please”

“Who’s calling?”

“Norman”

“Oh yes, right.   Its me, Barker.”  he said very formally.   I have to say he didn’t sound like the Dave Barker I knew of old, but it had been a while and people change.  I was frantically trying to think how long it had been since he had left, but it all gets a bit blurred after a while.  Must be old age catching up with me, well, that and too many beers and blows to the head over the years.

“What can I do for you?” I said getting straight to business.  There was a pause and then he replied.

“Oh yes, well, erm its like this, I have erm a small problem and I am told you might be able to help me”

“OK before I say yes, perhaps you could give me some bare bones.”   I said very coldly.

“Ah yes, right, well erm, I erm, look –  it’s a bit difficult to talk at the moment, do you think you could come down here?”

“Where is here?”

“Farnham”

“Surrey?”

“Yes, yes that’s right”  and he gave me the address.  “How long will you be?”

“I am not sure.  I will have to sort a few things out….”

“You have got to get here quickly, it really is very urgent.  Please.”   There was a note of urgency in his voice.  I heard somebody knock on the door.   “Hold on”.  He called out.   “I’m on the phone.  I’ll be a few minutes…..I’M ON THE PHONE!”  he shouted.   “Sorry, how long before you can get here?”

I thought about it.  Hammersmith to Farnham is about an hour, give or take, plus a bit to get myself going, sort out a car and other bits and bobs.

“Two hours.”   I said.

“OK, OK, erm no sooner?”

“No.  I am not Captain Kirk you know.  I can’t just beam up from here and beam down the next second on your doorstep.  Anyway, you haven’t told me what this is about”

“Oh, yes, erm alright, OK yes, but you’ll definitely be here before three o’clock…I am being blackmailed and its all come to a bit of a head.  I have a situation and erm I can’t really talk, I’m in the middle of something and I have a lot of people here…”   There was another bang on the door and somebody calling.  Barker shouted back irritably  “Yes, yes I know I know.  I’m just coming for God’s sake I’m try to finish a bloody phone call…”   The other person, which I suspect was a woman, clearly took umbrage at his retort and although I couldn’t hear what she said, I suspect it was something witty in that female way.

“I’ve got to go, but will explain everything when you get here.”   And he hung up.

Blackmail.  Come to a bit of a head.  I looked at the phone, how very odd.  How very odd indeed.  Why should some geezer I didn’t know very well and haven’t seen for God knows how long suddenly ring me up and ask for help with him being blackmailed?  Then I thought, well maybe its not that odd, because people contact us all the time to help with all sorts of problems and the majority of them I don’t know from a bar of soap.

I rang Cyclops and asked him to sort a car for me and told him where I was going and that if I needed anything I would ring him.

I showered quickly and tried to recall what, if anything I remembered about Mr Barker, other than that I had told Cyclops.  In short, the answer was not a lot.  I remembered he was a bit punchy, but as Cyclops pointed out that was not unique.  I seemed to think he had had a couple of “incidents” in Aldershot, although no charges were ever brought and that was about it.  The only thing I did know was that for some reason I hadn’t like him very much and that now I think about it, he was always a bit smarmy with me.   Mind you there are  lots of very reasonable people I don’t like and as Alison always used to point out, I did have a happy knack of upsetting people.  Wankers.

I checked on L, she was feeling a bit better but was going to stay in bed.  Would I be offended if we didn’t go out tonight, she was still feeling off?  Not at all.  I explained that something had cropped up and that I would be back around 7pm at the latest.

Twenty minutes after my phone call with Barker, I had cancelled the table and was walking down Fulham Palace Road to get my car.  It was a lovely sunny day and apart from poor old “L” being as sick as a parrot and the first day of my mini break being kicked in to touch by some joker I barely knew, all was well in the world.

2 Responses to “Barker 1 – Time Off?”

  1. havingmycake says:

    Rome is excellent! Both series.

  2. dl says:

    A bit of local interest – Farnham’s where I grew up.

    D.

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