A Pillar Of The Community: Part Twenty-Five

This is the twenty-fifth part of a fiction serial, in 1370 words.

Lucy had phoned in sick, unable to face her colleagues at work after the revelations over the weekend. She had spent most of yesterday in tears, and was feeling used and stupid. Annoyed with herself too, for believing that Sally had wanted to be her friend. Sitting on the bed in the guest room, she listened to the sounds in the house as Alex got ready. She was hoping he would leave early, as she was hungry, and wanted to go down and make something to eat. She wanted to avoid any confrontation with her husband too, and had an idea that there would be reporters outside the house.

For the first time since she had met Alex, she was scared of him.

Alex Conroy was happily answering questions outside the house. He adopted an expression that was just right, he thought. Pained, wronged, and just on the edge of upset. But resilient, and aggrieved. He had practiced the look in the hallway mirror, before opening the door. The expected phone call had come quite late last night, and he had been ready. As the Chief Executive of the Council, he didn’t have a boss to report to as such. But he was answerable to the elected officials who had appointed him. One of them rang, asking him to attend an informal meeting on Monday, so they could work out how they would handle all the fuss.

In the main office of the Traffic Division, Sally Wilcox walked past her new colleagues to knock on the door of the team inspector. Some were blatantly leering at her, others muttering under their breath. Her uniform felt tight and heavy after all that time not wearing one, and she knew that the officers in Traffic were going to resent having her foisted on them. She would just have to stick it out until everything went away. If it ever did. Inspector Harris seemed kind, but didn’t mince his words. “Good morning, sergeant. Let’s not pretend that you want to be here, or that I want you here. We both have to make the best of this cock-up, it seems. I’m sure you must have a lot of leave owing, so why don’t you take it? Come back in a month, and make a fresh start”. She stood up, feeling rather relieved. “Thank you, sir”.

In the boardroom, Alex sat opposite the three politicians. Phil Coulter was the leader of the controlling group, and they knew each other from the Golf Club. On his right was a woman he also knew well, Margaret Kelly. The other man was someone he had seen around, but couldn’t place. Phil asked him to tell what had happened in his own words, and Alex went through it chronologically. His wife had been having an affair with a younger man at work. When she had been away on an assignation with her lover, the son of his next door neighbour had been murdered, after discovering a burglar in the house. The police had eventually focused their attention on him simply because he had been at home that night, and lived next door. They had no clues, no suspects, and no other motive to work with. When they had been unable to tie him to the murder, a policewoman had instigated a lesbian relationship with his wife, hoping to make her tell lies about him. He had come across that by chance, when he had been out buying a new waterproof suit, and spotted them together. As a result of this, he had now engaged a legal team to represent him, and he was sure the police would be issuing a full apology soon.

After finishing his account, Alex leaned forward, rubbing his temples for effect. “In such a short space of time, my life has been turned upside down. My wife of more than twenty years has betrayed me twice, and a group of incompetent police officers has conspired against me to justify their jobs. I really have no idea what is going on, Phil. I assure you.”

Coulter looked at Mary and the other man in turn, slowly nodding to them both. When Alex sat back up, he began speaking, sounding sympathetic in tone. “We understand from the Chief Constable that the three officers responsible have gone. One has resigned, and two have requested transfers. I agreed with him that was in the best interests of all concerned, as any disciplinary action would have just caused everything to drag on. He tells me that the investigation will continue, but you will no longer be the focus of it. I do hope that your legal action will be resolved quickly too, and we can all put this unpleasantness behind us. Meanwhile, we will be issuing a statement giving you our complete support, and letting everyone know that you will continue in your job, with an unblemished record. How does that sound to you?”

Alex stood up, and shook hands with each of them in turn. “I would like to thank you, and assure you that this will not affect me carrying out my duties”. Phil smiled warmly. “And when things calm down, how about nine holes one Sunday morning? It’s been a while since we played”. Alex nodded, saving his own smile for when he was outside the room.

Neil Williamson was addressing his team, and Superintendent Singh was sitting in to listen too. “Right, all of you listen up. We are going to go back over everything, and I mean everything. I want the CCTV gone over, and I mean all of it, and any statements scrutinised word for word. Crime scene photos will be reexamined, and anyone who might have been in the immediate area re-interviewed. Until you hear otherwise from me, the case of Allan Sinclair gets your complete attention, is that clear? And I cannot stress this enough, but nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to approach either of the Conroys, or say anything to the press, or his lawyer Julian Carpenter. Now, off you go, get busy, and bring me some results”.

Derek Farley had a team of three on the story. The Nationals had picked up on it, and were running with the scandal aspect of course. He was digging deep into the Conroys, and the Sinclair family. But after they had worked all through the night, studied dozens of documents, and used every one of their contacts on the Council, and in the Police, they had nothing on Alex. The man had literally done nothing interesting. He didn’t even smoke cigarettes, let alone have some exciting dark past. The Sinclairs were a dead end. Reliable working people who had never so much as been caught speeding. The only thing Derek had on them was that they had hidden Allan’s condition. But that was something he had already used. If he was going to keep the story bubbling, he knew they had to come up with something. Meanwhile, they would use what they had on Sergeant Sally Wilcox, and her same sex marriage to a distinguished Police Commander.

Then young Abby Coulter appeared, her face beaming like a lighthouse. Her father was a politician, the local County Council leader, on his second term, and very popular. When he had asked Derek to offer his daughter a start as a junior reporter, he had been happy to oblige.

The girl was grinning so wide, she couldn’t speak properly. “I have just come from the Vet’s where Lucy Conroy works. She wasn’t in today, so I couldn’t get to speak to her. But you will never guess who I did find”. She showed Derek a photo on her phone. A young man with black hair, and a moody look on his face. “His name is Eduardo, and he was having an affair with Lucy for almost a year. He is the reason she wasn’t home that night, as they were off at some hotel miles away. He has agreed to give us an exclusive, and he asked for one thousand pounds. I told him that if you agreed, I will ring him, and he will come in after work”.

Derek sat back in his chair. “Good work, Abby”.

To be continued…

49 thoughts on “A Pillar Of The Community: Part Twenty-Five

  1. Yes, I had been wondering about the music as well and the fact that although the evidence points at Allan having been killed in his room, nobody seems to have paid much notice to that. How will Eduardo’s interview change anything? Will he become a media darling now? I’m intrigued!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The police were interested in the fact that the killing began in the bedroom, but still had no evidence to tie the crime to anyone.I did scatter a few ‘false clues’ around. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. Ah, but nobody ever mentioned the music to the police. And if they had, maybe the ‘burglar’ turned it off? (But why would he?) Regrettably, it doesn’t tie Alex to the crime at all, but I am glad Eddy noticed it, as I put that in as a tiny clue. Alex believed the Police would suspect Allan had turned it off, because he heard the furniture fall downstairs. That would support the burglar theory. That didn’t work, as the blood was found in his room. But nobody noticed the music wasn’t on, not even his parents, as they were too distraught.
      Only Eddy noticed it, so well done to him. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
      (And the new detective? Well, who takes any notice of the ‘new boy?)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete – as someone who can’t write anything longer than a short story and has no talent for fiction I would be interested in reading of how you wrote this almost a novel piece. Did you lay out the plot before you started, flesh in the characters, know where you were going before you went there?

    That would be a very interesting read!

    Regards from Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Frank. Your appraisal of your own writing skill is far too modest. I know, I have read your stuff.

      This is how I wrote this so far, and continue to.
      I thought up a title to use, for a short story about a murder involving someone with an unblemished character, and a position of some importance in the community. So, that came first. Then I chose the ‘villain’ character, based on that. In my head, I see it like a film, and I soon realised it would have to be a serial, to allow for all the details. The other characters appear as they need to. So, a wife, neighbours, the wife’s lover, then the police dealing with the case. Others turn up as required, the newspaper man, reporters, etc. Only the police officers are based loosely on people I met, the rest are just ‘characters’.

      The ending is already in my mind; but it has flexibility, maybe three options. The setting of a country town close to a large regional administrative city gives me more locations to work with, and adds some pressure on local police, unfamiliar with such big cases.The police officers have private lives that affect their work, give some idea of their background, and how they approach their work on the case.

      I made no notes at all for this serial, and wrote each episode in advance, one day ahead. I do my best to make it follow on chronologically and sensibly, from the previous one. Each part takes me around 90 minutes to write, check over, and save as a draft. Then I read it in Preview on the page the next day, before publishing. Comments from readers, and their reactions to developments, have to be considered, then resisted. It would be too easy to start to write what others want to read, or are expecting to happen. so sticking to the events in my head takes some discipline.

      I am trying to reflect aspects of the real world, despite this being fiction. I ask myself what would happen if this or that occured in real life, rather than supply an ‘Agatha Christie-style’ round up, followed by a ‘reveal’. I have to add some exaggeration for effect, as well as some compression of time, to make it work on a blog. Above all, I never forget that over 100 people are reading every episode, and try to give them something worth their trouble, every day.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pete – that is practically “stream of consciousness” writing! I .wouldn’t dare start posting a 25+ serial detective story without plotting it out in its entirety first! Plot. Characters. Personalities. Story line. I might even complete it before I started posting! I would need a chalk board!
        Nicely done! Besties.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am truly enjoying this serial. I know you intend to wrap it up in the next few days, but unless the plot compels you to do so, I think it could run a bit longer. I agree with GP Cox that it could be pushed to novella length. Suppose Alex gets away with murder. And then you write a second novella about his next murder (he got away with the first one, so why not?). Two novellas featuring Alex then can be thrown together in paperback and e-book formats, creating a work of full novel length, and entitled “Waterloo Close” or “A Pillar of the Community.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Things are falling into place like dominoes for Alex, but, perhaps, it’s all too perfect. Too many things falling just right for the old Chief Executive and within that perfection lies the loose thread that will unravel his facade. Of course–Alex being Alex–he’ll have to pull that thread…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The one thing that I find strange is that nobody noticed that the stereo stopped playing, after all wasn’t that the one thing that irked Alex more than anything, the incessant beat of the bass line. Why wasn’t the stereo playing when the body was discovered, why didn’t Alex think it odd that it had stopped and reported it?
    I know, I’m clutching at straws……..I wonder if the parents are taking a break at the same place that Tom and his missus have gone to look for a holiday home?
    The problem is that I’m deseeding pumpkins and I have lots of time to think πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well done for noticing the music, Eddy. Why wasn’t it playing? Perhaps Allan had stopped it when he heard something loud downstairs, so he could hear better if anyone was in the house? None of the neighbours had ever complained about the noise, so were unlikely to complain if it stopped, or think it strange that it had. And the neighbours at number five had more space between the two houses, so it may not have bothered them so much. And how would they know for sure that Allan hadn’t gone out to meet someone, and turned it off? After all, nobody knew about his condition, as it had been kept secret.
      Don and Jean Sinclair have gone to Scotland, to stay at his Mum’s for now. Tom and Karen have travelled to the East Coast, to look for a Park Home to move to. They are a long way apart. Good pumpkin-seeding thoughts though. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see little evidence to resurface. A chair leg, and some bloodstains in a bedroom. No fingerprints, footprints, or DNA samples, no witnesses. None of it ties anyone to the crime, it would appear.
      As for Eduardo, he may have his fifteen minutes of fame. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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