Marge slept the night in her own filth. Towards morning the flat door was kicked opened and Taylor stood there looking down at her.
He went over to the window, opened it and stared down onto the street below. His face was tired and worn. After a while he came over to the bed and kicked the mattress.
Marge stirred in her sleep and her arm moved out across to the other side of the bed.
Taylor kicked the bed; harder this time.
"Think again, love". He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply.
"Cullen's got a nice new bed all of his own. Courtesy of His Majesty, King George."
Suddenly Marge was awake and looking at him, her eyes wide. Then, realizing her condition, she turned to the wall and tried to cover herself with the blanket.
"We've got Cullen. You knew that of course. We could have taken you as well, but why bother?"
He kicked the bed again. "You're nothing."
Marge pulled the blanket over her head. "What d'you want, Taylor?"
Taylor considered this for a moment as he drew on his cigarette. "Oh, I don't know. A bit of cooperation, I suppose."
He walked over to the window. "I don't know how even a pig like Cullen could live in filth like this. You can get up and come over as soon as you've cleaned up. You know where I am, Dale Street."
Taylor dropped his cigarette onto the linoleum and ground it in with his foot. "Dale Street, that where we've got your little friend". He walked to the door.
Marge lay there without moving as Taylor stood in the doorway. He hesitated for a moment then came back into the room.
"And here's something you can think on, just in case you're thinking of running. D'yer hear me?"
Taylor kicked out the bed again and Marge nodded.
"Good. Then listen to me. Cullen's mates know that someone has grassed on him. We've got our star witness to protect. That stands to reason, doesn't it? Now they're hard men, vindictive you might say. So we don't want a friend of ours getting into trouble do we? D'you get my meaning?"
Marge nodded again inside the blanket.
"So you'd best think on that, hadn't you, love? I mean if you don't cooperate with us then we can't look after you, see? And if Cullen's mates were to get the wrong idea, you know, a word in the right ear. Get my meaning?"
Taylor paused, looking down at the bed.
"I'm talking to you, you know. I'm talking to you. D'you follow me? D'you get me? D'you get my meaning?"
Marge nodded yet again.
"They're a dirty bunch of bastards, aren't they, your new friends? And they'll be looking for someone, won't they? So it stands to reason they'll begin close to home. Maybe they'd be looking for someone whose dead matey with the police. Someone who gets personal wake-up calls first thing in the morning. D'yer get my meaning?"
Taylor paused for a moment looking at the figure on the bed then came forward again and kicked hard at the mattress.
"Well think on then. Think hard what you're going to tell me when you come in. I'll give you the rest of the morning to get it right."
He paused at the door. "You'd better be telling me what I want to hear."
Marge lay there listening to the sounds that came though the window. Kids over the way playing football in the street. She could hear it from beneath her blanket-- feet running then someone shouting out. A bit later a fight broke out and she could hear cheering then someone starting to cry.
She lay for most of the day under the blanket, not moving, not thinking, just floating in the sounds outside, feeling nothing. There were no thoughts in her head, no images, no dreams, and no pain, not even from her body.
Some time in the later afternoon when the house had grown quiet, Marge got out of bed and went upstairs to the bathroom. The bath wouldn't work as usual so she washed herself all over at the sink very slowly. She examined her body, there was a bruise on her leg but her face was worse, it was all cut and puffed up and she had two teeth missing on one side.
Marge found it hard to think for her brain had begun to spin and the thoughts to run faster and faster, one after the other. After a time she forced herself to go back to her room and pace up and down until she'd used up all her energy and her thoughts had begun to slow down. It was then that she realized she must do something, otherwise Taylor would be back.
Marge put on the kettle and sat down to think it out, very slowly going over all the points one by one. First Taylor had got Cullen; somehow he'd managed to pin the Palace murder on him. It suddenly hit her that Taylor had known for weeks, or even months, and that he'd simply been watching and waiting until the time was right. The more Marge thought about it the more she was convinced, the way Taylor used to drop in to the flat, the way he'd look at her and the little things he'd said. He'd always known, right from the very first day. And Cullen had fallen for it; he'd been playing into Taylor's hands, selling him bits of information, chatting with him in the Leigh Arms. And all the time Taylor had been quietly piecing the case together.
But what did Taylor mean about someone having talked, and having to protect the witness? God, he was so sly that one; he'd spit out the truth to tell a lie. What did he mean? At first Marge thought that Taylor had wanted her to give evidence against Cullen. But then why hadn't he taken her in with him right at the start? And why hadn't he sent someone round since?
Marge poured out a second cup of tea and stirred in the sugar very slowly. She was amazed at herself now, how calm she'd become and how much control she'd got. The important thing was that she had to help Cullen. She was second in command, wasn't she, and now the Big Boss was in jail. So it was all up to her now. But she had to do it right and not rush off like she'd done the other night. She'd have to make a plan and it'd better be a good one, just like Cullen would have done.
Marge went over it once again. Taylor must have something that was cast iron. He must have got hold of someone who'd told him the whole plot. Terrance? No, he'd never split on a mate, not if you tortured him. Who else? I had to be Stutty. Stutty must have done a deal. Him or Vera.
Marge opened her handbag to count her money. Two pounds fifteen and fourpence. And there must be twenty or thirty quid in her drawer. Marge went over to the dressing table and hunted amongst her smalls for the little stack of money which she brought over to the table to count. Twenty seven pounds fifteen and fourpence all told...that was enough. She could do a lot with that. A good solicitor would make Stutty's evidence look daft. But who? She's have to find someone who know about those sorts of things. Someone who knew the right thing to do. As Marge looked into her tea cup she smiled. That was it, the lady she'd had tea with. She's was posh, she'd be able to help, she'd know what to do.
Contact F. David Peat