Should Have Looked Away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It began on a Sunday.  An ordinary Sunday, and a family trip to the mall.

 

Will Carter takes his five-year old daughter to the bathroom, and there he is witness to a fatal assault on an innocent stranger.

 

Over the next few days, Will tries to put the experience behind him, but when he sees one of the attackers outside his home, he becomes more and more involved, before long passing the point of no return.

 

Becoming drawn deeper and deeper into something he does not understand, Will feels increasingly out of his depth and is soon asking where this is headed and was the victim as innocent as he first thought…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philip Cox is married with two children and lives near London. A former Bank Manager, he pursued a career in banking and financial services for many years, until he took a break to become a stay-at-home father.  In between numerous school runs, Philip wrote
After the Rain
, which appeared in 2011.
Dark Eyes of London
and
She’s Not Coming Home
followed in 2012.
Something To Die For
, which introduced the maverick LAPD detective Sam Leroy, was published in 2013.
Don’t Go Out in the Dark
was published in 2014, and
Wrong Time to Die
, the second Sam Leroy story, was published in 2015.
Should Have Looked Away
is his seventh book.

 

Also by Philip Cox

After the Rain

Dark Eyes of London

She’s Not Coming Home

Something to Die For

Don’t Go Out in the Dark

Wrong Time to Die

SHOULD HAVE

LOOKED AWAY

PHILIP COX

This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law.  Any unauthorized distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Version 1.2

Copyright © Philip Cox 2016

Philip Cox has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

www.philipcox.moonfruit.com

For Peggy

Mum to two and Nan to four


Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.’

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

All I did was write the book!  Other people helped in the process. I want to thank: Anne Poole; the Time Warner Center; the Midtown North and 52
nd
Precincts of the NYPD; the FBI Cyber Division and National Crime Information Center, and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

 

Cover photograph by Michael Cory

 

ONE

The digital temperature
display on the dashboard read 87 degrees. Will Carter noticed the reading, exhaled deeply, and fiddled with his shirt collar. Some of the cotton had stuck to his neck and upper chest. He was able to get some relief, some air to his body. He had removed his tie long ago. A small bead of sweat ran down his forehead and into his eye, causing it to sting. He made another sound of exasperation, and rubbed his eye. Then he applied a little pressure on the gas pedal, moving the car forward three or four feet.

‘You okay?’ asked the man in the passenger seat.

‘Yeah,’ Will replied. ‘Sweat.’

Dan Gleave fiddled with his own open collar and looked around. ‘Man, this heat.’

It was a Friday, mid-September. The average temperatures for this time of year in New York City range from a low of 60 to a high of 76. July and August are extremely hot and humid, with average temperatures reaching the mid-eighties. Very unpleasant and driving many New Yorkers away for the summer months. By early September, though, things have normally settled down, with the temperatures more bearable.

Today was an exception. In fact for the last two days, the mercury had reached the sort of values you would expect in July. But today, 87 it was.

It did not help matters that for the last thirty minutes Will and Dan had been stuck in a long line of traffic leading off the Long Island Expressway into the Queens Midtown Tunnel. They were still in Queens, on the elevated section between 50
th
and 51
st
Streets: as the Expressway snaked slightly to the left and began its descent into the tunnel, its four lanes were reduced to two. This, coupled with the need for vehicles to at least slow down as they approached the toll booths, meant that traffic was now gridlocked.

‘What the hell’s going on?’ Dan snapped irritably. ‘I need to be out again at six.’

Will looked down at the clock: two minutes to five. ‘I don’t think you are.’

‘Shit,’ muttered Dan, staring around. ‘What the hell’s going on?’ he said again, straining to look down the Expressway.

Will shook his head. ‘Can’t tell. It’s just the same after the tolls. The same going into the tunnel. Maybe it’s just weight of traffic.’

‘Probably a smash in the tunnel.’

‘If it was, we’d see an ambulance by now. Strange – I know it’s rush hour, but we’re going into the City.’

Will tutted and shook his head as the car in front let a tanker filter into the lane. He could smell the diesel fumes. ‘Should’ve used the subway,’ he said.

Dan just grunted.

‘Which line is it that goes this way?’ Will asked, not addressing his question to anybody in particular. ‘Is it the L Train?’

Dan looked over to him. ‘I have absolutely no idea.’

Will grinned. ‘Oh yes, I forgot: you never use public transportation.’

Dan looked over to his left and snorted. ‘It’s flowing quicker leaving Manhattan.’

‘Where you going tonight?’ Will asked.

‘For a meal. It’s Jia’s mother’s birthday, so we’ve got a table booked at the Crescent Moon. You heard of it?’

‘Don’t think so. Where is it?’

‘Just off Mulberry. The old broad’s seventy-five, so all the family’s going to be there. More or less taken over the whole damn restaurant.’

They moved forward fifteen, twenty feet.

‘You?’ Dan asked.

Will shook his head. ‘Nah. Chrissy’s out with a couple of girlfriends; I’m just at home with the kids.’

‘Babysitting?’

‘Kind of. Although Lou’ll be in bed by eight-thirty, and Jake will be in his room all night, doing whatever he does on the internet.’

‘So just you, then?’

‘Yep,’ said Will, edging forward some more. ‘That’s why God created box set blu-rays.’

‘Wanna swap places?’ Dan asked.

‘Nope.’

Will Carter and Dan Gleave ran a Real Estate office in New York City.  Both in their late thirties, they met up and became friends during their time at High School.  Both were raised in Brooklyn, but their paths never crossed until High School.  Will lived in a brownstone in Greenwich Village with his wife Chrissy and their two children, thirteen year old Jake, and five year old Louise. Dan lived in a third floor condo in what Will termed a luxury building in Chinatown with his partner, Jia. Both began employment in an office, Will for a Savings & Loan, and Dan in insurance, but after the last recession, when Dan was laid off, they founded C & G Real Estate, with a second floor office on W 45
th
. The company now comprised Will and Dan, plus a thirty year old secretary named May, and a twenty-something, pimply trainee called Eddie.  Most of their work involved real estate either in Manhattan or the Bronx, the Hudson and East Rivers forming a kind of frontier, although now and again they did venture into other Boroughs.

Today they were returning from visiting a property in Queens. Will had been working on this particular customer for some months, during which she had vacillated frequently about whether to sell or not. The lady was in her seventies, and spoke very little English, so today her son was at the property to translate. After two hours negotiation, Will had agreed with the lady, or with her son to be precise, that she had two options. One would be to put the house, a single storey two bedroom place, on the market in its present condition for $899,000. Option 2 would be to tackle the mould and dry rot problem: this remedial work would cost in the region of $20,000, but would increase the market vale of the little house to over a million. To Will, and to her son, it was a no-brainer, but the lady was adamant that the specialist reports were wrong that her little house did not need any work. So that was it: with a six percent commission rate, that came in at just under $54,000. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but it could have been much more.

That morning, as they discussed the lady, Dan said he would go along with Will, to give him moral support in the negotiations, if he didn’t mind. Will’s response was whatever: he suspected Dan just wanted to get out of the office and finish early on a Friday afternoon.

Not successful on either count.

‘Finally,’ Will said triumphantly, as the traffic began to speed up. ‘May get you back for six after all.’

Just as they entered the tunnel and Will got the speed up to twenty, it slowed down again.

‘You were saying?’ Dan asked, leaning against the door.

There was a loud bang, sounding like a gun shot.

‘Jesus Christ! What was that?’ Will exclaimed, looking around. ‘It sounded like a gun.’

Dan looked over his shoulder. ‘Can’t see anything.’

Will’s silver Hyundai Santa Fe was in the number 2 lane. Although he had now picked up speed, the number 1 was moving slightly faster. Will could hear the loud roar of an unsilenced vehicle coming up from behind in the other lane. As he could detect the sound getting closer he looked in his mirror and saw the source of the noise about to overtake. As it came up level with Will and Dan, the other lane slowed down, and so the Hyundai and the other car, a red convertible, were moving alongside each other. The silencer was clearly faulty, or not working, as the racket the vehicle was making was deafening, especially within the confines of the tunnel.

Both Will and Dan looked over, although Dan could get a better view.  It was a Mustang, dating back to the seventies, Will guessed. In spite of the car’s age, it had been beautifully maintained. The red bodywork was without obvious blemish, and gleamed under the tunnel lights. Driving the car was a man possibly still in his twenties, dark hair tied in a ponytail. Two or three days’ beard. He was wearing a black sleeveless vest, and on his exposed left upper arm was a large and intricate tattoo. He was holding the steering wheel with one hand, and now and again would put a can to his mouth. Will’s first reaction was that the guy had not seen soap and water for several days.

The passenger was a different matter: much more easy on the eye. She was around the same age as the driver; her jet black hair was cut into a bob, and was in marked contrast to her pale white face. She wore very dark lipstick, almost black to match her hair. She was wearing a black leather jacket - Will noticed she showed no signs of being hot despite the temperature – on the collar of which was a row of silver metal studs. She casually looked over at the other lane: as her gaze met Will’s she gave him a faint smile.

Will reciprocated, his eyes quickly moving back to the traffic ahead, which was now picking up in speed.

At this point the driver noticed. He said something to the girl, at which the smile vanished and she looked straight ahead. The driver leaned forward slightly, turned to face Will, and raised his middle finger. Will laughed and looked ahead. Under the noise of the traffic in the tunnel and the Mustang’s engine, Will thought he could hear the driver shouting something. He turned slightly and saw that he was, although Will couldn’t make out what it was.

Will mouthed ‘up yours’ at the other driver and looked ahead again. By now the traffic had picked up speed and Will could see the end of the tunnel in the distance. In his lane the traffic was flowing at around twenty-five; the other lane at least ten mph faster. However, the Mustang remained at the same speed at Will, driving exactly parallel.

‘Idiot,’ Will muttered.

‘What?’ Dan asked. ‘What’s that guy up to?’ he said, looking over.

‘Didn’t like me looking at his girlfriend,’ Will muttered.

‘Asshole,’ replied Dan.

The vehicle behind the Mustang was a bus, which now sounded its horn. The Mustang driver screamed one more unintelligible word at Will, and floored the car. With a deafening roar and filling the tunnel with exhaust, it sped away.

Will shook his head and remained calm, but inside he was praying the Mustang would not be waiting for them after the tunnel and he kept checking his mirror all the way back home.

 

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