This is the sixteenth part of a fiction serial, in 1199 words.
Tom listened to an answerphone message. Inspector Mullins had called everyone back for a briefing. It must be something significant, as it was an urgent request to drop what they were doing, and go straight in to the conference room. This time, he was doing the talking, and Sally sat at the top of the table, ready to take any notes.
“We have received new evidence from forensics, following their detailed second sweep of the house. I can confirm that Allan Sinclair was upstairs when he was attacked, probably lying on his bed. Blood found has been matched to his, and a tiny sliver of wood has been matched to the chair leg, same wood, same varnish. This changes what we thought earlier, that Allan had heard something, and gone downstairs before being attacked. It means the killer was upstairs at some stage, and may have gone into the bedroom looking for loot, prior to attacking the boy he found there. It makes me wonder why he just didn’t run back down the stairs and out of the house, so begs the question, did Allan know his killer? Would he recognise him? Was that why he was killed?
Unfortunately, we have no footprints or DNA in the bedroom, nothing to suggest who he might be. But this definitely widens our investigation outside of the burglary/murder theme we have been working on so far. As far as we know, Allan had no friends, and kept himself to himself, even at school. So, no know enemies, nobody he had ever offended or upset, no jealous lover, or enraged parent of a girl he knocked up. All the usual avenues are firmly closed to us. The FLO reckons the parents are out of it too. Their alibi is good, and they had no reason to harm their son. If he didn’t surprise a burglar, then we have to assume that somebody went in there intending to do him harm, and had to kill him because he would have known them. Any thoughts?”
Tom raised his hand, and Mullins nodded to him. “My only burglary suspect, Kenny Fletcher. I don’t like him for this. Besides his dental problems, he lives over six miles from Waterloo Close, and there’s no way he would walk there. His car hasn’t shown up on any cameras, helping to confirm what he claimed, to be in all evening, because of the toothache. I popped around to the Sinclairs, following a hunch about an escape route. When I looked at the stone planters next to the fence, I found an area that looks like someone stepped on the rim, to use it as a leg-up over the fence into number nine. I have some photos on my phone. On the other side is a large garden storage box, and he would have had to know that was there. It follows that he knew about it, because he had seen it from the window of Allan’s room.”
Sally noted down his comments, writing furiously. Inspector Mullins looked very pleased. “Great work, Tom. Get those photos over to the tech guys, and let’s have that planter brought in for a detailed examination. Then ask Mr Conroy if we can examine that box in his garden. Be polite”.
Lucy had managed to ignore Eduardo all day, except for having to occasionally mention something to do with work. He hadn’t said anymore about the weekend or their relationship, and hadn’t asked who the woman was who had come to see her. After talking to the attractive and understanding sergeant, she had come to the conclusion that she was right. Alex would have to hear it from her. Waiting for an unknown time for it to come out would be unbearable, and she could already sense the tension that would add to her home life. She would try to bring it up this evening, after guessing his mood once he was home.
Karen Henderson felt wobbly after the shower. It had been a long time since she had showered and washed her hair. Tom usually did it for her. She heated up some tinned soup in the microwave, and ate it with some slices of bread. She was not going to take her evening pill, as she wanted to stop blotting out the world for a while. She never told Tom, but she knew how hard he worked to care for her, and never complained. But now he had something really important to do, instead of catching burglars. He must find whoever killed that disabled boy, and for once in her life, she had to step up, and help him.
Alex seemed very calm during dinner, so before she cleared away, Lucy tested the water. “I had a police sergeant come to talk to me at work today, a lady one. She was very nice, so understanding”. He smiled, and asked, “What did she want to see you about?” His tone was friendly, betraying nothing of the small alarm bell that had gone off in his head. Lucy placed her elbows on the table, and leaned forward. “Well my account of where I was wasn’t exactly truthful, and I have to talk to you about that”. Alex could not resist sarcasm, try as he might. “Do you mean we are going to have a conversation? How refreshing”. Lucy ignored the jibe, and continued. “I was with a man, not Claire. In fact, there is no Claire, no Weight Watchers, Aerobics, or Pilates. No Zumba, Yoga, or Slimming Club. They were all just excuses for me to see Eduardo from work, You know, the new nurse I mentioned, the one from abroad.” Alex showed no emotion, although he felt genuine surprise. “I was with him at the weekend, I went away to finish it with him, it’s all over”. Lucy sat back in the chair, feeling like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
Alex nodded, and looked down at the tablecloth. He wanted to laugh, but fought the urge. Well well well, Lucy was a dark horse. Imagine her keeping that secret for so long, and being cunning enough to build such a web of deceit around her affair. He had new respect for her. Perhaps there was something lurking inside his dull wife after all. Of course, she couldn’t have known that it might have all been so much easier. If she had just come home one night and said, “I want to have an affair with a bloke at work”, he would have just told her to go ahead. It wasn’t as if he had any real feelings for her. But he did hope it didn’t become public knowledge. After all, it would be bad for his reputation, his wife going off with another man. And a much younger man at that. And a foreigner. She suddenly spoke, breaking his train of thought. “Well, Alex. Have you got anything to say?”
He looked up at her, his face blank. “I think I would like some of that lemon meringue pie now. With cream, if we have some. And perhaps you had better sleep in the guest room from now on.”
To be continued…