This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 1188 words.
As Lucy turned off Mafeking Avenue into Waterloo Close, she had to stop dead. The end of the close was cordoned off, and full of police cars that blocked anything entering or leaving. A short policewoman walked over to the window and told her, “Sorry madam, this road is closed, due to an incident”. Lucy smiled and replied, “But I live here. Number nine, the last house on this side”. The policewoman walked away a few paces and spoke into her radio for a moment, before returning. “That’s alright then. But you will have to leave your car here on the corner for now”. Lucy straightened up the car, and parked it closer to the kerb, wondering what what going on.
She left her case in the boot, and grabbing her handbag, hurried down to the house. The policewoman had radioed ahead, so other officers lifted the tape for her as she got closer. Next to the tape, a few journalists and photographers started to shout out to her, but she couldn’t make out what they were asking, and carried on into the house. Alex was standing by the window, and smiled at his wife as she came into the room. “Alex, what’s going on? What’s happened?” Her face was flushed, and she kept looking around, as if expecting someone else to be there. He spoke as he turned back to look out of the window. “Something bad seems to have happened at the Sinclairs. Quite the circus, isn’t it? Oh, did you and Claire have a nice time in the city? I expect the police will be along to talk to us soon. They said they would”. Lucy sat down heavily on an armchair, and blew the air out of her cheeks.
Tom Henderson found the flimsy white over-suit restricting, and the shoe-covers slopped around as he walked. Everyone had turned up now, including Inspector Mullins. Crime scene people were taking fingerprints and blood samples, the search team guys were doing a detailed fingertip of the back garden, and photographers were everywhere, snapping away. Sally Wilcox was hovering around the Inspector spouting textbook phrases, and Superintendent Parvinder Singh was on his way from the city. Tom always thought that his turban suited him, a nice dark blue that matched his dress uniform. He wondered if he would have a different colour today, as he would obviously be in plain clothes. Jean Sinclair had been given a sedative by her family doctor, who had been happy to attend. And then her and her husband had been taken to a small hotel in the town, as the house would be turned upside down, and they couldn’t stay there tonight.
Don sat on the edge of the bed as his wife slept soundly next to him. Whatever Doctor Barnes had given her had worked well, as she was out for the count. His heartbreak had been replaced by anger, when they made him and Jean get changed, then took their fingerprints, before asking for the shoes and the clothes they had been wearing, then placing them in huge brown bags marked ‘EVIDENCE’. How the hell could they be evidence? It seemed to Don that they were now some sort of suspects, instead of being the people whose son had just been murdered. They sent a policeman along who said he was a Family Liaison Officer, and would stay with them. But Don was so angry, he had asked him to leave the room. Placing his head in his hands, he wondered how they would ever get past this. He felt cold from the shock of it all, and his legs started to tremble uncontrollably.
The doorbell made Lucy jump. She had been deep in thought, trying to work out a feasible story in her head, with little success. If the police asked her where she had been, what would she say? There had been no Weight-Watchers franchise conference in the city, as far as she knew, and Claire didn’t exist, just someone she had invented to cover her frequent lateness and absences. Alex answered the door to a uniformed policeman, and invited him in. He carried a clipboard, and declined the offer of tea or coffee, as well as the invitation to sit on the sofa. “Just some routine questions for now, if that’s OK”. Alex smiled, and the man went through his check-list. Names, dates of birth, occupations, places of work, contact phone numbers, car types and registration numbers. When Lucy told him she had just got back from a weekend away, he asked when she had left, and noted down the times. Then he asked Alex if he had heard or seen anything unusual since Friday morning. ” Friday I was at work until around six, officer, then when I got home, I didn’t see anyone, or hear anything out of the ordinary. On Saturday, I did some gardening, then went to the Golf Club to play nine holes. Oh, and I stayed on to have dinner with a friend. When I got back, around eleven I think, I didn’t see or hear anyone or anything. What has actually happened? We are naturally worried about our neighbours”. The officer closed the flap over his clipboard, preparing to leave. “All I can say for now is that there has been an incident, and the house is being treated as a crime scene. Thanks for your cooperation”.
Tom was sent away before Superintendent Singh turned up. The Inspector told him to get off and get busy checking on the whereabouts of all known burglars in the town. “Shake them up, Tom. See if they have alibis, and let them know we’re not messing about. Get the word out, this is the murder of a simple, defenceless boy, and they had better start giving us some information”. Tom had nodded, and walked back to his car, pulling off the papery oversuit before he got in it.
Sergeant Sally Wilcox made sure she was the first one to greet Superintendent Singh when he arrived. As he walked through the cordon, he nodded at her. “What have you got, Sally?” His tone was in the usual businesslike manner he was know for. She had her short speech prepared. “I would say it’s a burglary gone wrong, sir. Matey enters through the unlocked patio doors, and starts to spin the living room. The teenage boy is alone in the house, and must hear him. Comes downstairs, a fight breaks out, and the burglar uses a leg of the broken chair to club him. But the medical examiner says he was strangled too, so I’m guessing he put up a fight after being hit on the head. Mum and Dad are with an FLO at Meadow House Hotel. They haven’t had a chance to tell us if anything’s missing yet. Time of death estimated as Friday evening, around seven. That will be confirmed later, after the post-mortem. Uniforms are doing a house-to house, and we have two detectives on CCTV recovery”.
The Superintendent nodded. “Nice work so far, Sally. Now, let’s go and have a look”.
To be continued…