Charlotte, Emma and Josh got back late. They’d eaten after the show and taken their time returning. Plenty of time for me to clean up, restore the bike to its original state, dismantle the phone relay and return the weapon and ammunition to the purlin. I was reluctant to dispose of them, but I should probably do that as soon as I got the chance. The burner phone was already dismantled and buried in the cement foundations of a new bridge, the sim card destroyed. The clothes I had worn in the market had been disposed of in a burning skip.
A week later we were having breakfast in the garden. Josh had managed to turn off his phone and was telling me about his plans to ditch being a YouTuber and be an actor. Emma was reading some social media feed and smirking, it was hard to tell what at. Charlotte was catching up with the local paper.
‘You worked with an Alan Stephens didn’t you?’ she said.
‘Stephens? Alan, yes, years ago. You met him once at Arthur’s. Why?’
‘He’s missing. They found his car in the woods in Bratby park on the edge of town. No sign of him though. Asking if anyone has seen him to let them know.’
‘I haven’t seen him in twenty years. Thought he went overseas.’
‘Says he came back to take up a “senior civil service post” six months ago.’
‘Probably shacked up with a tart if he’s still the same as when I knew him.’
She shook her head.
‘He’s been missing nearly a week.’
‘Wow!’ Emma said.
‘Not that surprising, people do disappear.’ Charlotte said.
‘You went “wow”‘ I said
‘Yeah, they’ve found a body in the market fire’
‘Oh God!’ Charlotte said. ‘I wonder if it’s Alan?’
‘One of Dad’s work friends is missing, I was just reading about it in the paper.’
‘Was his name Colston?’ Emma asked.
‘No. Alan Stephens.’
‘Wow! That’s weird.’
‘Not that unusual a name.’
‘No it says here “there is speculation that Colston’s death may be linked to the disappearance last week of Alan Stephens, rumoured to have been a Cold War warrior.” Oh my God they think he did it and escaped!’
‘Does it say that?’ Charlotte asked.
‘Well, no, but between the lines that’s what they mean!’
‘Do you think it could be linked?’ Charlotte turned to me.
‘Shouldn’t think so. Sounds like someone taking two and two and making sixteen.’
‘But why would they link them?’
‘Peter Colston used to work with Stephens years ago.’
‘Do you think…?’
‘No. Nobody waits twenty years to settle a score do they? All water under the bridge now. Just a coincidence.’