On a normal day in late October 1989, in a normal road not far from St Paul’s, Liston had been to visit his youngest sister, Inez. She was the one he felt closest to of all his family. He was her big brother and had always felt protective of her ever since she was a child.
Inez opened the door of her ground floor flat and welcomed Liston with, “Hiya brov, how you doin?”
“OK sis, you? I brought you some Wagon Wheels.”
“Yummy, come in, coffee?”
They squeezed along a narrow passage with a faded carpet littered with shoes and boots, brushing past coats hanging from pegs fixed to the wall, into the tiny kitchen diner at the back of the flat.
Liston sat at the small fold-out table. They ate the chocolate snacks and drank coffee. Inez had loved Wagon Wheels from as far back as she could remember.
“They were much bigger when I was a kid,” she said.
They talked about Inez’s new boyfriend, whom Liston was not too keen on. He knew one or two things about him that Inez didn’t, but he kept them to himself. The two chatted about their father whom Inez loved dearly. Inez thought he had been looking a little pale recently, and she worried about his health.
Inez was a girl who liked her chocolate and creamy, stodgy foods too much. Some of her friends called her chubby, but her Mum always used to say she was well covered when she was young. She was much smaller than Liston, just reaching up to his shoulder. She wore black-rimmed glasses and dressed a bit old fashioned for a young girl. She had a bubbly personality and was always smiling. She loved life and was rarely down.
Liston left her flat on a bright, late October afternoon. A breeze had got up and a slight shiver went through his bones so he pulled the black hood of his jacket over the black bandanna he had tied around his head. Liston liked wearing black: it made him feel and look like the hard man, which in fact he was.
The trees had lost their leaves; they were blowing about and drifting into the gutters at the sides of the road. With just a short walk to get back to his car, he set off in a good mood.
He had walked a few hundred yards down the road from Inez's flat when he heard shouting and screams. Immediately he hurried toward the cries.
A young white man was attacking a policewoman. He had stabbed her in the back with what looked like a large kitchen knife and was bending over her, about to strike again at her motionless, blood-spattered body. The young man looked up with a blank expression on his face to see a tall black man standing in front of him. He raised the knife again, ready to thrust it deep into the back of the policewoman. Without a moment’’’s hesitation, Liston pulled his German WWII Walther P38 pistol from his coat pocket. Two shots shattered the silence of the cool, otherwise peaceful afternoon. One bullet hit the attacker in the chest, the other in the stomach. The man seemed to fall in slow motion on top of the policewoman's body. In blind panic, Liston ran, his heart pounding. It felt like it was about to burst out of his chest.
This started a series of events that he could never have foreseen, even in his wildest imagination.
Liston made it back to his car, a silver BMW M3. Fumbling with the keys, he opened the door. He clambered into the driver’s seat, trying to catch his breath and act normal, but after what had just happened, it was impossible.
Sweat was pouring from his body. His mind was in turmoil. Questions! Questions! What should I do? Where should I go? Who can I talk to?
Liston had been carrying the gun for a few months. It had become part of his daily dressing routine. He liked the feel of the cold metal when he touched it; he liked the weight of it in his pocket. The pistol made him feel powerful and safe. It made him a person not to fuck about with. It was a symbol of his strength. He had stolen it when he’d broken into an old man’s house. It must have been a souvenir he’d brought back after the war. Liston nicked some other stuff, but there was little else of value there.
With a shaky hand he put the keys into the ignition and the BMW thundered into life. He drove off, weaving his way through the narrow back streets of Bristol to his flat.
Meanwhile, back at the scene of the attack, the police and ambulance service had arrived. WPC Wendy Parker was still breathing but her attacker was not doing so well. The paramedics had given Wendy first aid and stabilized her as best they could on the cold hard road. They placed her on a gurney and loaded her into the waiting ambulance which took her to Bristol Royal Infirmary, with lights flashing and sirens screaming. When they arrived they rushed her into intensive care.
Her attacker was pronounced dead at the scene. The two shots had killed him outright. He was lying on his back now, the knife close by his hand. Later, a black coroner’s van drove him away.
As the incident unfolded at the scene of the attack and killing, the police investigation began in earnest. The forensics team had arrived in force, and were starting to get themselves organised for the job in hand.
Detective Chief Inspector John Orchard was in charge of the investigation. He was a man in his late fifties. He had fought in the Korean War with The Gloucestershire Regiment, so he had first-hand experience of the evil men can do to each other.
After he left the armed forces he joined the police force, and had worked his way up to become a Detective Chief Inspector.
John Orchard was a smart man, quite tall, with short grey hair and a square face with steely blue eyes that could see straight through you. He was never seen at his job without wearing a suit and always wore the Gloucestershire Regimental tie. He was a proud man and didn't suffer fools gladly.
Orchard started to take control of the crime scene. The forensics team had found the shell casings from the 9mm pistol. They photographed the area in great detail. The kitchen knife was bagged and tagged.
Uniformed police officers started to search the surrounding area for any other evidence and were talking to witnesses.
Working with DCI Orchard was Detective Sergeant Nick Floyd. Floyd had worked with Orchard for just over three years and had great respect for his boss. He was thirty-three years old, with an academic background. He had gone to Bristol University and studied Ancient History, but after a year he dropped out and joined the police force. He was a stocky man with untidy black, wavy hair. Five o'clock shadow made it look as if he needed a shave. He and Orchard worked as a team and had been involved in many strange cases over the years, but had not come across anything like this before.
DCI John Orchard and DS Floyd were on their way to interview the person who’d called the police. She lived in a block of flats overlooking the scene of the attack. They climbed the concrete stairs to the first floor landing and knocked on the door. A petite old lady answered. She reminded Orchard of his Auntie May, with her silver grey hair covered with a hairnet.
Floyd flashed his warrant card. "This is DCI Orchard," he said.
"Come in, my dears, have you come about the murders?”
They entered the flat. It was warm, and the front room was tidy and neat. There was a colourful crocheted woollen blanket covering the armchair in front of the television. The old lady asked the officers if they wanted a cup of tea.
"Yes please, two sugars for me,” DCI Orchard said. “No sugar for Floyd – his wife has put him on a diet,” he said with a chuckle.
While Mrs Stokes was in the small kitchen, making the tea, DCI Orchard checked the window. There was a good view of the area where the attack took place, he noted.
After drinking his tea, DCI Orchard asked the old lady if she had crocheted the blanket covering the chair.
“No, I haven’t got the patience for that, I bought it in a charity shop in town.”
“So, can you tell us what you saw?” Mrs Stokes.”
“Well, I was sat listening to the radio when I heard two loud bangs. I thought it was kids letting off fireworks. They are always letting them off before bonfire night, you know. Anyway I put my glasses on, got up and looked out of the window.”
“And then what happened?”
“There were two people lying in the road just the other side of the railings.” She was at the window pointing to the spot. “One looked like he was on top of the other, you know.”
“Did you hear anything before the bangs?”
“There was some shouting and screams, I think.”
“Well, I could see there was something up, so I called 999. I spoke to a nice young girl. She was so helpful and calmed me down, I think she was a police officer as well, you know. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to call the police, you know.”
“Was that all you saw?” Orchard asked, getting a little irritated by all the “you knows”.
“I did see a tall black man running up the road, and getting into a silver car, but he was too far away to see him well. My eyes aren't as good as they used to be, you know. Anyway, I’m not sure if he was anything to do with what had happened.”””
Orchard thanked the old lady, and told her she had been most helpful.
“Come back if you need anything else, my dears.”
Orchard thought, Poor lonely old lady. I hope I don’t end up like that, put out to grass and forgotten.
By the time the two police officers returned to the crime scene, it was dark. The road was cordoned off now with blue and white POLICE DO NOT CROSS tape. A large white tent was erected over the area where the body had been lying, and strong arc lights were blazing down on the scene. It gave the whole area a surreal and eerie atmosphere. A light illuminated the inside of the tent and the dark shadows of the forensics team could be seen against the canvas walls.
Some large moths caught DS Floyd's eye, banging and crashing into the glass in front of the lights.
"Not much more we can do here at the moment. Let’s get back to the station, it’s getting late," Orchard snapped at Floyd.
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