Clean Cut(2)
Author:Lynda La Plante


    DCI Langton had a special gift; anyone who had ever worked with him knew it and, on the two occasions Anna had been assigned to work on his team, she had learned so much. In fact, living with him made her even more aware of just what a dedicated detective he was. He always looked out for his team and she, more than anyone, knew just how far he had gone to protect her when she had not obeyed the rules. Though he often bent them himself, he was a very clever operator; he had an intuitive mind, but his tendency to be obsessive made him tread a very dangerous line. During the eighteen months they had lived together, even when he had been hard at work all day, she had often seen him working into the early hours, going over and over the case files. He never missed a trick and his prowess at interrogation was notorious.

    Anna sighed. Suddenly all her anger over him missing dinner and her urge to make lists evaporated; all she wanted was to hear his footsteps on the stairs and then his key turn in the lock. After all, she knew he was wrapping up a murder enquiry; doubtless he had just gone for a celebratory drink with the boys. She finished her wine and took a shower, getting ready for bed. She wondered, as it was so late, whether he had gone to his own flat. She rang, but there was no reply. She was about to call his mobile again when she heard footsteps on the stairs. She hurried to be there waiting for him, when she froze, listening. The steps were heavy and slow; instead of hearing the key in the front door, the bell rang. She hesitated; the bell rang again.

    ‘Who is it?’ she asked, listening at the door.

    ‘It’s Mike–Mike Lewis, Anna.’

    She hurried to open the door. She knew instinctively something was wrong.

    ‘Can I come in?’

    ‘What is it,’ she asked, opening the door wide.

    DI Lewis was white-faced and tense. ‘It’s not good news.’

    ‘What’s happened?’ She could hardly catch her breath.

    ‘It’s Jimmy. He’s over at St Stephen’s Hospital.’



    Langton and his team had just charged the killer of a young woman. When the man had put in the frame two other members of his street gang, Langton, accompanied by Detectives Lewis and Barolli (close friends, as well as members of his murder team), had gone to investigate. As they approached the two men, one had knifed Langton in the chest, then slashed his thigh. He was in a very serious condition.

    By the time the speeding patrol car reached the hospital, Anna had calmed herself down: no way did she want him to see her scared. As she hurried through the corridors leading to the Intensive Care Unit, she was met by Barolli.

    ‘How is he?’ Lewis asked.

    ‘Holding his own, but it’s touch and go.’ Barolli reached out and squeezed Anna’s hand. ‘Bastard knifed him with a fucking machete.’

    Anna swallowed. The three continued to the ICU.

    Before Anna was allowed to see him, they met with the cardiothoracic surgeon. The weapon thankfully had missed Langton’s heart, but had caused severe tissue damage; he also had a collapsed lung. She could hardly absorb the extent of the injuries: she felt faint from shock and had to continually take deep breaths. Both Lewis and Barolli were pale and silent. It was Lewis who asked if Langton would make it.

    The surgeon repeated that he was in a very serious condition and, as yet, they could not estimate the full extent of his injuries. He was on a ventilator to assist his breathing; his pulse rate was of deep concern.

    ‘Will I be allowed to see him?’ Anna asked.

    ‘You can, but only for a few moments. He’s sedated, so obviously will not be able to talk. I must insist that you do not enter the Unit, but look through the viewing section. We cannot afford any contamination; he’s obviously in a very vulnerable state.’

    Langton was hardly visible among the tubes. The breathing apparatus made low hissing sounds as it pumped air into his lungs. Anna pressed her face close to the window; the tears she had tried so hard to contain flowed, yet she made no sound. Lewis had a protective arm around her shoulders, but she didn’t want it. She wanted to be alone; she wanted to be closer to Langton–above all, she wanted to hold him.

    Anna remained at the hospital all night; Lewis and Barolli returned to their homes.



    The next morning, Langton went into relapse. Again, she could only watch helplessly as the medics worked to resuscitate his heart. Drained by anxiety, and both emotionally and physically exhausted, she finally returned home after being told he was stable.


    DAY TWO

    She was back again by mid-morning to sit and wait, in the hope she might be able to at least see him closer. The hours passed at a snail’s pace; she constantly stood in the Intensive Care viewing room, watching the array of doctors and nurses tending to him. She hadn’t cried again since first seeing him; she now felt as if she was suspended in a state of panic. Her head ached and she felt physically sick. It was Lewis who made her go and get something to eat; he would stay watching.

    The hospital café was almost empty. She ordered a coffee, some soup and a roll. She hardly touched any of it, but picked at the bread, rolling it into small balls. She could hardly take it in: Langton might die. It was just so unthinkable that such an energy force could suddenly be terminated. Closing her eyes, she twisted her trembling hands in her lap, whispering over and over, ‘Please don’t let him die. Please don’t let him die.’



    When Anna returned to Lewis, he was sitting on a hard-backed chair, reading the Daily Mail. The headline read: Top Detective Knifed. Lewis had numerous other papers, all running the attack on the front page. It had created considerable political impact: the number of knife attacks in London had been escalating. Langton had become one of the first police officers to be wounded, and by an illegal immigrant; the list had mostly comprised murdered schoolkids until now. The news programmes all covered the knife amnesty arranged by the Met; the summation was that there were hundreds of thousands of armed kids in schools alone.

    Lewis folded the paper, sighing. ‘Makes me sick, reading these articles. What they don’t say is that those two bastards are still being hunted, but with no luck tracing them. At least we got the bugger.’

    ‘The man who attacked him?’

    ‘No, the case we were working on–murder of a prostitute, Carly Ann North. He was picked up trying to slice her head off. A local cop caught him at it, rang for back-up and when they turned up, the two so-called pals did a runner.’

    ‘Is that when you were brought in?’

    ‘Yeah. Jimmy questioned him–he’s a twenty-five-year-old Somali illegal immigrant called Idris Krasiniqe. He served six months in prison for robbery and was then released! Bloody mind-blowing, the fucker was let loose. He’s now held at Islington station. Without Jimmy, I’ll have to handle the trial.’

    ‘These other men that were with him–have you got any trace on them at all?’

    ‘No. We went to try to find them after we had a tip-off from Krasiniqe. That was when it happened.’

    Anna could see Lewis was physically shaking; he kept swallowing, as if he was having trouble catching his breath.

    ‘So, this tip-off?’ she prompted.

    Lewis stood up. ‘That was when it happened. We were at this shithole in Brixton, walking up the stairs and…’ He sighed and shook his head. ‘Bastard’s probably gone back to where he came from. It beggars belief, doesn’t it? The one held in Islington was supposed to have been fucking deported, but the Home Office alleged that if he returned home, he’d be in danger–so they let him loose on our fucking streets! World is going crazy.’

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