Last time Bill investigated inside the mountain but had to turn back to the Evans’ farm empty handed.
The next morning, although Allie had urged him to go the previous evening, Bill took the car and drove to the police station in Merthyr Tydfil. It was further south than the hospital, set in Graham Street, just off the high street where he was able to park the car.
He took a moment in the car to flick through his wallet and pull out the ID card he wanted to show the local plod, to give him a cover for asking the questions he wanted to ask and hopefully making use of the phone in the policeman’s office.
The young constable on desk duty greeted him in a pleasant Welsh voice, and listened intently as Bill explained who he was – a Chief Inspector from the Kent Police – and that he had run into some funny business he’d like a little help with.
“What can we do for you, Chief Inspector Cunningham?” the man asked, looking a little awed. The police station although probably purpose built was at least a hundred years old and beginning to look a little shabby. He wondered how often anyone above the rank of inspector visited them here.
“Well, I’m looking for information on any helicopters in the area. Who owns them, and so on,” he said pleasantly.
The young constables eyes were like saucers as he listened to the story. He cleared his throat and shuffled some papers, ” We don’t strictly keep records on helicopters, you understand, but I can help you with who might have access to helicopters, sir?”
Not strictly keeping records was an interesting way to phrase it, Bill thought. That meant they did have some sort of records, even if they weren’t typical ones. “Anything you can tell me would be helpful,” he responded.
“I believe that Constable Jones knows more than I do,” the constable said, reaching for the telephone on his desk.
As Bill waited for Jones to be summoned he noted from the half filled in paperwork on the desk that the constable’s name was Evans. Idly he wondered if he was a relative of Mr and Mrs Evans. He doubted it, though. Evans was probably a common Welsh name and Mrs Evans would surely have told him if she knew someone working in the station.
Evans spoke into the telephone in Welsh at first and then, perhaps realising that might seem rude, he switched to English. “I have an Inspector Cunningham from the Kent Constabulary,” he said. “He’s asking about helicopters in the area…” He looked up at Bill. “Constable Jones will be with you in just a moment.”
Constable Jones appeared swiftly and shook Bill’s hand. “If you’d like to follow me, sir, we can speak in private.”
“Thank you, Jones, much appreciated,” Bill said, accepting his invitation through to the rear of the station. He and Jones ended up in a small, cluttered office that obviously provided desk space for half a dozen constables. Uniform jackets with shiny buttons were draped over the backs of chairs to signify ownership – however temporary – and stacks of paperwork threatened to spill from several surfaces.
Jones grabbed a jacket off one chair and offered it to Bill, then sat in another chair himself. “I’m sorry about the facilities,” he said, hurriedly tidying his bit of desk. “Normally Inspector Griffiths would see you, in his office, but he’s off on holiday and…” he trailed off, perhaps realising he oughtn’t to say any more.
“It’s not a problem,” Bill assured him. “Now, what do you know about helicopters in the areas, specifically, any that are involved in what you might call funny business.”
“Well, it’s funny you should ask,” Jones said. “We had an inspector from Cardiff asking questions about airstrips and helicopters not too long ago, apparently they’ve got some big investigation going on.”
“Really,” Bill said, pleasantly surprised. Well, that was helpful. If the police were already looking at strange goings-on with helicopters then the information he needed may just be a telephone call away.
Jones opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted as two other constables entered the room, talking in Welsh. Bill knew but a few basic words in Welsh but even he could tell that the conversation was lewd.
Jones snapped something at them in Welsh and they paused to look at him with open curiosity. “Who’s this, then?” one of them asked, or at least that’s what Bill assumed he was saying.
He stood up. “Chief Inspector Cunningham of the Kent Constabulary. I hope I’m not in your way here?”
“No, not at all,” they stammered, looking so much like deer in the headlights that Bill had to suppress a laugh.
“Go eat your lunch somewhere else,” Jones said to them, jerking his head meaningfully at the door, and they fled.
“Sorry, sir,” Jones stammered, as he went to the ancient filing cabinet to retrieve the information they has gathered for the Cardiff police.
“We kept copies of everything we sent to Cardiff,” he said. Bill took the file with thanks and leafed through it. There was a list of airstrips, airports and helipads operating within a 50 mile radius; much of which overlapped with Cardiff anyway as it was only 25 miles away, a map with the airstrips marked, lists of names and addresses. The file was in a mixture of Welsh and English which hampered him slightly, but Jones was happy to translate. “Those are the details of the inspector we passed all this on to,” he said. “Would you like me to see if I can get him on the telephone for you?”
“That would be extremely helpful Jones, thank you,” Bill nodded, scanning the file, trying to take in as much information as possible. He wondered if the constable would object if he made some notes. He would ask shortly. If the inspector in Cardiff allowed him access to the police files there, he might not need to take notes now and the bigger police station would indeed be able to make him copies, whereas the small station here lacked the man power to do so.
He sat, looking through the file as Jones dialled through to the Cardiff constabulary and asked to be put through to Inspector Morgan.
It didn’t take too long before he was handed the receiver, and Jones excused himself to give Bill privacy. Bill had a really very interesting talk with Inspector Morgan, all about helicopters which disappeared off all all hours, with nobody knowing where they went or why. Bill also gave a brief summary of what he had discovered from Jack’s note and his own explorations.
“If it’s not an inconvenience,” Morgan said when he was done, “might I ask you to come down to Cardiff? I can have a car sent for you, sir.”
“No need, I have my own,” Bill said. “I can be with you in, say, an hour if that suits?” He was glad that he had opted for the Chief Inspector ID, he thought as he put the receiver down. It put him just enough above Inspector Morgan that information could flow the way he wanted it to. Of course, he would help them all he could, but he preferred having the upper hand. Jones hadn’t returned yet so he placed a call of his own, to his headquarters. He wanted to appraise them of his situation as he knew he might need their help later, whether that be man power, a helicopter, or a presence to lean on the Cardiff police. He spoke with Bennett who said he’d pass the information on, and they’d be on standby to offer assistance when needed. He also inquired after Anatoly, wondering if he would want to join him for what could end up being a rescue mission, but Bennett told him that Petrov was out in the field and wouldn’t be back for some time.
To be continued…