"Might be I'm afraid of responsibility."
She stared at him. "That smacks of a prepared answer."
"Be prepared, that's my motto."
"Oh, you were a Boy Scout?"
"No," he said. She stayed quiet, picking up her pen and studying it. It was one of those cheap yellow Bics. "Look," he said into the silence, "I've got no quarrel with Gill Templer. Good luck to her as a DCS. It's not a job I could do. I like being where I am." He glanced up. "Which doesn't mean here in this room, it means out on the street, solving crimes. The reason I lost it is ...well, the way the whole inquiry's being handled."
"You must have had similar feelings before in the middle of a case?" She had taken her glasses off so she could rub the reddened skin on either side of her nose.
"Many a time," he admitted.
She slid the glasses back on. "But this is the first time you've thrown a mug?"
"I wasn't aiming for her."
"She had to duck. A full mug, too."
"Ever tasted cop-shop tea?"
She smiled again. "So you've no problem then?"
"None." He folded his arms in what he hoped was a sign of confidence.
"Then why are you here?"
Time up, Rebus walked back along the corridor and straight into the men's toilets, where he splashed water on his face, dried off with a paper towel. Watched himself in the mirror above the sink as he pulled a cigarette from his packet and lit it, blowing the smoke ceilingwards.
One of the lavatories flushed; a door clicked its lock off. Jazz McCullough came out.
"Thought that might be you," he said, turning on the tap.
"How could you tell?"
"One long sigh followed by the lighting of a cigarette. Had to be a shrink session finishing."
"She's not a shrink."
"Size of her, she looks like she's shrunk." McCullough reached for a towel. Tossed it in the bin when he'd finished. Straightened his tie. His real name was James, but those who knew him seemed never to call him that. He was Jamesy, or more often Jazz. Tall, mid-forties, cropped black hair with just a few touches of gray at the temples. He was thin. Patted his stomach now, just above the belt, as if to emphasize his lack of a gut. Rebus could barely see his own belt, even in the mirror.
Jazz didn't smoke. Had a family back home in Broughty Ferry: wife and two sons about his only topic of conversation. Examining himself in the mirror, he tucked a stray hair back behind one ear.
"What the hell are we doing here, John?"
"Andrea was just asking me the same thing."
"That's because she knows it's a waste of time. Thing is, we're paying her wages."
"We're doing some good then."
Jazz glanced at him. "You dog! You think you're in there!"
Rebus winced. "Give me a break. All I meant was . . ." But what was the point? Jazz was already laughing. He slapped Rebus on the shoulder.
"Back into the fray," he said, pulling open the door. "Three-thirty, 'Dealing with the Public.'"
It was their third day at Tulliallan: the Scottish Police College. The place was mostly full of recent recruits, learning their lessons before being allowed out onto public streets. But there were other officers there, older and wiser. They were on refresher courses, or learning new skills.
And then there were the Resurrection Men.
The college was based at Tulliallan Castle, not in itself a castle but a mock-baronial home to which had been added a series of modern buildings, connected by corridors. The whole edifice sat in huge leafy grounds on the outskirts of the village of Kincardine, to the northern side of the Firth of Forth, almost equidistant between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It could have been mistaken for a university campus, and to some extent that was its function. You came here to learn.
Copyright © 2002 by John Rebus Limited
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