This is the fifteenth part of a fiction serial, in 1330 words.
Lucy smiled at the woman approaching the reception desk. She was stunningly attractive, her strawberry blonde hair enhanced by highlights of various colours, and the flawless make up resembling one of those cosmetics assistants in a department store. Her navy suit showed her almost perfect figure, though the skirt was perhaps too short for such formal wear. “Can I help you, madam?”
The woman held up a leather wallet containing a photo-I.D. and a badge of some kind. “Sergeant Wilcox, county police. You are Mrs Lucy Conroy, are you not?” Lucy swallowed hard, and tried to keep up her chirpy demeanour. “That’s me, how can I help the police?” Returning the wallet to her shoulder bag, the policewoman spoke firmly. “I need to ask you some questions concerning the death of your neighbour, Allan. Is there somewhere we can talk in private?” A young man walked past behind Sally, carrying a dopey-looking dog with one of those plastic cones around its head. Sally showed no recognition, but spotted him immediately as the man picked up from the train station.
In his office at work, Alex was reading the local paper, which was still milking the crime for all it could. From somewhere, they had obtained photos of Allan Sinclair taken at his school, and also added a detailed explanation of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. The tone of the editorial annoyed Alex though. It seemed to be shifting the blame onto Don and Jean for leaving him alone, as if what had happened had been their fault. He would liked to have sent a sharply-worded letter to the editor, but wasn’t about to show his hand by going public about anything to do with the case. Besides, it did no harm to let people think the parents might somehow be involved. Anything that muddied the waters of the investigation was to be welcomed.
After almost two hours in the back bedroom, crime scene specialist Pat Spiller finally found something. Small traces, tiny ones in fact, but definitely blood. She wiped them onto a cotton bud, and sealed that in a tube. And there was the splinter, discovered by using a tiny vacuum cleaner to collect anything that might be left on the bed-cover. It was microscopic, but definitely wood, and possibly bloodstained too. Pat was satisfied with her work this morning. Finally, some progress. She took her precious samples downstairs, and made a call to Inspector Mullins. “Hello sir, Pat Spiller here. I reckon you can work on the assumption that the boy was attacked in his bedroom. I have some good evidence, and my gut feeling tells me we are going to prove he was on the bed when it happened”. Mullins punched the table lightly. “Great work, Pat. Get that processed as urgent, and update me as soon as”.
Lucy got one of the nurses to cover her reception desk, and showed the policewoman into the back office. As she walked through, Lucy got a blast of her perfume. Expensive stuff, and just right. She declined an offer of tea or coffee, and the two women sat opposite each other next to the big desk. Opening a folder, Sally started Lucy in the eyes, fixing her gaze. “I will come straight to the point, Mrs Conroy, there are some discrepancies in the account you gave my colleague. You told him you were at a seminar in the city, but in fact you were a long way from there, collecting someone from the train station in the opposite direction. That someone is the young man I have just seen outside in the reception area, I believe. Now, do you feel like telling me the truth, or would you prefer to come with me to the Police Station, and get a lawyer?” Lucy’s face was red, and she was on the verge of crying. But she held it together. “I did lie about that, and I apologise for doing it. I can tell you exactly what happened, but it must be between us, as my husband must never find out. Is that something acceptable to you?” Sally crossed her legs extravagantly, and sat back in the chair. “We will have to see about that, Mrs Conroy. Or may I call you Lucy?”
Tom had popped home to make sure Karen was alright, and was surprised to find her sitting up, looking alert, and watching TV with great concentration. The rolling news was on, and as he came in, she turned and looked at him. “Is it this poor boy, Tom? Is that the case you’re working on? Is that why you were called in?” He nodded, and sat down. “Then you must do your best, love. Find the person who killed that unfortunate boy, whatever it takes. I will be OK, there’s no need to keep checking on me, honest”. Tom looked at her, and saw some vestige of the old Karen behind the emaciated face. A small spark, but a definite spark. The killing of this boy had moved something inside her, perhaps reminding her of the daughter she had lost all those years ago. It had taken another tragedy to shake her from the dull state she had existed in for so long. He patted her leg. “If you’re sure, Karen love. I will do my best”.
Once she started, Lucy didn’t stop talking. It seemed to Sally that she had a lot to get off her substantial chest, and welcomed the chance to unburden herself to someone in authority. So she had been at the Lakeside Hotel with her lover, a colleague from the Vet’s. She had left work early, and had a solid alibi for Friday afternoon, that could be verified by the hotel, and was probably on their CCTV. As well as that, this Eduardo character could confirm her movements, as he had been with her until Sunday afternoon. Seems like this Alexander Conroy was a cold fish indeed, and Sally wondered why he had married Lucy at all. But he had never hit her or neglected her, and was a good provider. However, it was obviously not a love match, either way. She marked Eduardo’s card as a chancer, something Lucy had discovered on that weekend away.
When she had finished noting it all down,. and checked a few details, she looked across at the chubby woman, who now seemed far more relaxed. There was something about her that appealed to Sally, an innocence, an inherent honesty. She seemed younger than her years, trusting, and truthful. Not something you noticed that often in police work. Sally found herself drawn to her, as if she had known her for years. “Thanks for being honest with me , Lucy. For what it’s worth, I believe you, and that will be the end of it, as far as I am concerned. However, if there is a trial down the line, and someone pleads Not Guilty, you may well find yourself in court, explaining your alibi. You know as well as I do that such things eventually get found out, especially in a small town. My advice is to tell your husband before he finds out from someone else”. She opened her bag, and offered Lucy a card. “Here’s a card with my details, Work number, and mobile. If you want to talk to me anytime, just call, day or night”.
Lucy took the card, letting her hand fall onto the policewoman’s knee. “Thanks for being so nice to me, Sally, I really appreciate that. And I know you’re right. But I admit I am really scared to tell him”.
Sergeant Wicox stood up, preparing to take her leave. As Lucy stood too, she clasped her hand warmly. “I wouldn’t worry too much. What’s the worst that can happen? Even if he wants a divorce, you still get half of everything, and a fresh start. She smiled, then added, “He’s hardly likely to kill you, is he?”
To be continued…