This is the twenty-eighth part of a fiction serial, in 1177 words.
Superintendent Singh had been summoned to see the Chief Constable. When he got back, he was in something of a bad mood. He called DCI Williamson into his office, and spoke coldly and methodically.
“You have had over three months since taking on the case, and despite all the man-hours and resources, you still have nothing. No suspect, no leads, no new evidence. The Chief tells me that they have agreed to settle with Conroy and his lawyer. Officially, the damages are being reported as ‘undisclosed’. But I can tell you that he gets five hundred thousand pounds, plus another fifty thousand goes to Carpenter for his fees, all paid by the Police Authority. The Chief Constable is hanging onto his job by a thread, and the shit is rolling downhill. So, this is what I want to happen”. He lifted a typed sheet close to his face, and read from it.
“The case will be marked as unsolved, pending any new evidence, or someone coming forward with a confession. Release Allan’s body to his parents, file all the paperwork, and assign one of your team to be responsible for reviewing it later on. Get your team back on normal duties, and start trying to clear up all the routine stuff that has been piling up. Make sure that nothing is leaked to the press about this. They have already lost interest, and we don’t want to shake any wasps’ nests. Have you got all that, Chief Inspector?”
Sally was packing old photos and books into a box. She chose carefully, not wanting to cause any issues by inadvertently taking something that belonged to Emily. When Tom had phoned about buying his flat, she had said no at first, not sure she was ready to tuck herself away in that development, with mostly older people. But after thinking about it, she called him back. It was a good deal, and a reasonable price. He would leave all the furniture, as he had already left for his seaside home. There would be no fees to pay on either side, except for the legal stuff. And it was an easy move for her. No flat-hunting, no estate agents to deal with. Emily had stayed away, having decided to apply for retirement to get away from all the gossip. Sally doubted they would ever meet again. As for her new job at Traffic, if she thought that was going to be car chases and investigating accidents, she had been very wrong. After returning to work when her leave ended, she had been put in charge of the Road Safety Education Team, mostly talking to schools and community groups. Day shifts, no weekends, and an easy enough job.
She would stick it out. One day, the dust would settle, she was sure.
Lucy finally felt free, after all those months of anguish. She had found her ideal place, on the Welsh border, almost two hundred miles away from her former home in Waterloo Close. Some decent land on what had once been a struggling smallholding, with useful outbuildings. There was no house, but she had solved that problem by buying an old caravan, and having it brought to the site. Then she wasted no time populating her retreat with companions. The rescue donkey, she had named Echo. He shared with the Llama, called Cuzco, and they seemed happy enough. Her white Alsatian, King, had settled in quickly, and never left her side. Then there were the rabbits, all named after Beatrix Potter Characters. The two cats, Castor and Pollux, did their own thing during the day, but always came back for dinner. There was a poor phone signal, no stable wi-fi, and she hadn’t bothered to buy a TV. But there was enough money to allow her to not worry for a while, as the place had been cheap to buy. As she fed the chickens, she was content. She had done a lot in a very short time, and was proud of herself.
Eduardo was enjoying life in the big city. The move to London had worked out well, with lots of job opportunities. And nobody seemed to know who he was, or ever mention anything about the case. He had rented a tidy bedsit in the suburbs, and settled in quickly in a large veterinary practice in a smart area. Better still, his landlady had taken to him immediately. The Widow Constantinou owned quite a few properties, and drove around in a top of the range BMW. He would be more careful this time. Reel her in slowly.
It was a chilly morning, but Karen didn’t let that stop her walking along the beach. She threw the ball for Paddy, the Lakeland Terrier Tom had got her, and smiled as the dog raced off to fetch it. Tom had used his pension lump sum to settle the cost of the Park Home, wanting to get away sooner, rather than later. Once the money came through from Sally, they would be comfortable enough. The Police Pension was generous, worth all that time paying into it. Karen was eating well, and sleeping every night too. This had been just what she had needed to rebuild her life. But she was concerned about Tom. He wasn’t the sort to just do nothing, and had never had a hobby. Most afternoons, he would walk on the beach for hours, rain or shine. He said he was just thinking, but never let on what he was thinking about. She had her doubts about how well he would settle into such an early retirement, and felt more than a little guilty about those years he had cared for her so selflessly.
She was determined to make it up to him.
Tom scrolled through some news websites and checked his emails, while Karen was out with the dog. Nothing new in the case, save a statement from Julian Carpenter that he had been happy to clear his client’s name, and gain undisclosed damages for the harm done to his reputation. He had an email from Sally confirming the sale would go through in less than a week, and he would have the money that day. Then he opened another one, sent by Roland Fullerton from his personal email address. The case was being mothballed. Before long, it would disappear off the radar, and become just another unsolved murder. Rumour was that Conroy had got half a million, and his wife had moved out. He was still in his job, and the official line was that he was blameless, a victim of collusion and circumstance. Roland had been fobbed off, and was spending most of his time allocated to improving the software used to compile reports. Tom looked at the last line. ‘I tried, Tom, I really did. But they were never going to listen. Cheers then, hope all’s well. Roland’.
Tom typed a short reply.
‘Not to worry, Roland. He will slip up one day, and then have me to deal with’.
To be continued…