"Give us a fag, mate," Vetter said, looking amused. "There!
What a good boy you are." He lit it with a wooden match from a bright red railway box, shook it out, and tossed the match stub into
Farnham's ashtray. He peered at the lad through a haze of drifting smoke. His own days of laddie good looks were long gone; Vetter's
face was deeply lined and his nose was a map of broken veins. He liked his six of Harp a night, did PC Vetter. "You think Crouch
End's a very quiet place, then, do you?"
Farnham shrugged. In truth he thought Crouch End was a big suburban yawn -- what his younger brother would have been pleased to
call "a fucking Bore-a-Torium."
"Yes," Vetter said, "I see you do. And you're right. Goes to sleep by eleven most nights, it does. But I've seen a lot of strange things in
Crouch End. If you're here half as long as I've been, you'll see your share, too. There are more strange things happen right here in this
quiet six or eight blocks than anywhere else in London -- that's saying a lot, I know, but I believe it. It scares me. So I have my lager,
and then I'm not so scared. You look at Sergeant Gordon sometime, Farnham, and ask yourself why his hair is dead white at forty. Or
I'd say take a look at Petty, but you can't very well, can you? Petty committed suicide in the summer of 1976. Our hot summer. It
.." Vetter seemed to consider his words. "It was quite bad that summer. Quite bad. There were a lot of us who were afraid they
might break through."
"Who might break through what?" Farnham asked. He felt a contemptuous smile turning up the corners of his mouth, knew it was far
from politic, but was unable to stop it. In his way, Vetter was raving as badly as the American woman had. He had always been a bit