Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Chapter 29

As the sun forced its way through a thin, grey drizzle on Thursday morning in Birkenhead, events were unfolding that would bring together the main protagonists in the drama of Laurel McFry.

After a fitful night’s sleep, Colin McAllistair had left his north London flat not much after 6.30am, taking a cab to Euston station and catching the 7.13am train north to Liverpool. If all went well, he expected to arrive in Birkenhead sometime shortly after 10am, and to meet Stan Redfearn in his shop at 10.30am.

Lillian McFry had awoken at her usual time of 6am, sleep something which she found eluded her more and more the older she got. She lay awake in bed for an hour, her thoughts skimming from memory to memory, before rising to make her breakfast.

Laurel McFry had spent an uneasy night, too, worrying (just a little) about the implications of her meeting with the bank manager the previous day, and wondering if perhaps she’d made a mistake not informing Harry McFry that she had also engaged Danny Longhurst to look for her missing family.

Dave Morris, the deputy manager of the national Family Health Services Counter Fraud Operation, was travelling by train to North Yorkshire, along with Jane Tobias, the officer he had selected to accompany him to investigate exactly why a GP in Thirsk should have wanted to access medical files as far afield as Staffordshire, Durham, Merseyside and the West Country. It was a long journey, almost five hours, with changes at Bristol and York, and they were not expecting to arrive in Northallerton until mid-afternoon. Time enough for Dave to get to know Jane a little better.

Harry McFry had woken early, catching the fragment of a dream involving Ana and a missed tube train in Madrid. At the unaccustomed hour of 8.30am he was already at his desk in his office at Meldew Buildings, leafing through a file and piecing together the information he’d gleaned the day before, and wondering how much else he could find before Danny Longhurst arrived at ten.

Dr Dacre Lawrence woke in the unfamiliar surroundings of a hospital bed.

And Cyril Galloway, after a leisurely breakfast, was preparing himself for a pleasant drive through Cheshire for a lunch appointment in Birkenhead with Colin McAllistair. At McAllistair’s expense, of course.

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