N ightingale drove his MGB up to a set of wrought-iron gates set into a ten-foot-high brick wall. It was a few minutes after eight o’clock in the morning and the sun had only just decided to put in an appearance.
‘Is this it?’ asked Morris. Nightingale nodded. ‘I have to say, Jack, that when I said I’d do anything for you I didn’t mean breaking and entering. And I didn’t expect you to have me up at sparrow’s fart.’
‘I’m pretty sure the house is empty,’ said Nightingale.
‘Yeah, well, it’s still breaking and entering.’
‘You’re as bad as my assistant. Eddie, the guy who lived there is dead. And even if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have gone running to the cops.’
‘Who was he?’
‘A rich nutter,’ said Nightingale.
‘How did he die?’
‘Why does that matter?’
‘I just want to know what I’m getting into,’ said Morris, patting the sports bag on his lap. ‘You sure about this?’
‘I’m sure the guy’s dead. And I’m pretty sure that without him to pay the bills his security team will have moved out.’
Morris stiffened. ‘You didn’t say anything about a security team.’
‘It’s not a problem,’ said Nightingale. He climbed out of the MGB. ‘He was a bit paranoid, that’s all. Anyway, he’s dead. I just need you to get me into the house.’
Morris got out of the car and stretched. ‘Not much room in these MGBs, is there?’
‘It’s a classic,’ said Nightingale, patting the roof.
‘It’s a bloody matchbox, that’s what it is.’ He gestured at the driveway. ‘You sure there’s no one in there?’
Nightingale walked over to the high black-metal gates. He rattled them. They were locked. He went over to the intercom set into the wall and pressed the buzzer. There was no answer so he pressed it again, this time for almost a minute. ‘If there was anyone in there, they’d be telling me to go away, wouldn’t they?’
‘There’s CCTV,’ said Morris, pointing at a camera covering the approach to the gates.
‘There’s lots of CCTV,’ said Nightingale. ‘But that’s not a problem if there’s no one in there to look at the monitors.’
‘You sure his alarm isn’t connected to the local cop shop? Or a monitoring centre?’
‘Like I said, he was paranoid. He wouldn’t want outsiders coming round.’ He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, then blew smoke. ‘Okay, Eddie, I need you to get in there and let me in. Then you can push off and leave me to it.’
‘Push off where?’ said Morris. ‘We’re out in the bloody sticks.’
‘Then you can wait here and I’ll drive you back to civilisation,’ he said.
Morris looked at the gates, then along the wall. ‘How am I supposed to get over that?’
Nightingale blew a smoke ring that was quickly whipped away by the wind. ‘Bloody hell, Eddie, you’re the housebreaker,’ he said. ‘Allegedly.’
‘I don’t fancy the gates,’ said Morris. ‘Give me a leg up over the wall. But away from the CCTV. I hate those things.’