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Iain Shaw, a product of the Roadshow

I’ve mentioned the Katie ‘n Pasha Roadshow once or twice – perhaps not here – the daydream I step into when I’m waiting for a train or stuck in a queue, the twenty year soap opera of Kathryn Blake and Pavel Tomeckova and the slow dance of their intersecting lives.

Sometimes it’s directly useful, and gets filed away for use in a potential future installment. Sometimes it’s entirely useless, a blind alley that either amuses me and is forgotten or, with a few careful nudges, becomes something quite different (like the entirely uncharacteristic interlude on a tropical island that might become the basis for something called The Untouched, one day).

Most of the time it falls in between, nothing that is ever likely to make it in to print, but adding texture and signposts, even whole subplots. I think, for instance, that our Katie is going to have to learn to skate in Birmingham, in a few years’ time, in order for a scene to work with Pavel a few years after that.

And then there’s Iain Shaw. Iain is very much a product of the Roadshow, a back projection of a character I may need at a future date. You’re going to meet him in Find the Lady as a young officer barely out of his probation, boldly seeking out David McAllister with a question of his own – at least, I dare hope that if you have read this far you will give Find the Lady a chance. For now, here’s a clairvoyant peek at that possible future, and the first time that I met Iain Shaw (adjusted a little, of course, for the facts as I now know them).

 If this ever happens it will happen in a story called Kaleidoscope, perhaps 6 or 10 years into our future . . .

I knew her the moment she came through the doors.  Of course I did; we come from a small village, barely able to support a primary school. She went away when I was about fourteen – there was some family trouble, and if you don’t know about it, I’m not sure it’s fair to explain. She only came back the once, and briefly, and we never had the chance to talk. Even so, I could hardly forget her.

I was watching everyone, that was what I was there for, but my eye wandered back to her, now and then.  I saw her dancing with the old men, and being charming.  I saw that old goat let his hand slip down from her waist, and . . . well, I thought better of her than that she would break his arm there and then, but I watched her smile easily and dance on, and I wondered. I’d wondered about the girl before. I’d wondered if she would ever come home. I’d wondered if she was really dead.

I’d even asked; and that got me here, I guess, but it didn’t get me an answer.

I had a feeling that I should know the name that she went by now, but it danced away from me, and I tried to put it out of mind. I was beginning to be certain that whoever the girl had become, she was working, and anyway, I had duties of my own.

All the same, I could not help but be aware of her.  I saw her dance, very stiffly and formally, with the security attaché, Pavel Tomeckova.  I don’t mind saying that I drew entirely the wrong conclusions from that, at the time.  The only dance she really enjoyed all evening, and I was more certain than ever that I was watching her at work.

McAllister appeared at my elbow, and followed the direction of my gaze.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about them, son,” and he must have seen something else in my expression, because he added, “oh, you know our Kate, do you?  Why don’t you dance with her?”

I looked across in sharp surprise, and I’m not sure what he made of that. He only added casually

“She can’t dance with Tomeckova all evening, not here.”

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