This is the fourteenth part of a fiction serial, in 958 words.
Tina Collier was looking at an almost blank file on her desk. Danielle stood on the other side, waiting for instructions. “Philip Harper, twenty-four, window cleaner. No arrests, no convictions, no known associates, not even a speeding ticket”. Tina looked up at Danielle. “So the only reason he is in for questioning is because he cleans Calder’s windows? Talk about clutching at straws, Danni”. The younger detective shrugged. “Well boss, he would know the house, the layout and such. But there is no real reason to suspect him otherwise. His neighbours confirm that his work van was parked outside all night, and he claims to have been home watching TV and drinking lager. Nothing on his laptop or phone worth chasing up, and his movements since the girl went missing can all be confirmed by the window cleaning company. He’s just a boring young bloke with not much going on in his life”.
Tina sighed. “Well, as he’s here, I might as well talk to him. No, in fact, you interview him. I really can’t be arsed. As it is I will probably be here half the night, sorting through all the bogus sightings generated by that bloody press conference”.
Phil was sitting in the small room trying not to look too nervous. A little bit nervous was OK. After all, he was in a Police Station. He had declined legal representation, and they had told him he would have to wait until a detective was free. On the phone, they had asked him to come in, and to bring his laptop and phone, if he gave permission for those to be looked at. He had said he would come in after work the next day, but they said tonight was good, if he was free. He felt it was important to cooperate, so had arrived as arranged. The girl walked in with a tall skinny bloke. She was good-looking, and seemed to him to be too attractive to be a policewoman. But he didn’t really know any, so had nothing to base that on. She said it was an informal interview, nothing taped, and no need for a caution. Phil nodded.
Ten minutes later, he was back outside, walking to his van. He had sat around for a couple of hours, then all she asked him was more or less what she already knew. They had returned his laptop and phone, sealed in big plastic bags, and thanked him for coming in. When the girl finished talking, Phil hadn’t been unable to stop himself blurting out, “Is that it, then?” She shuffled her files and nodded. “For now, but we may still want to question you again later. Please let us know if you intend to move house, or leave the city”.
In Rodney’s flat, he was watching Marjorie, amazed how much the girl could eat. She had asked or a twelve-inch stuffed crust pizza, plus garlic bread, dough balls, and ice cream for later. It was all gone except for some crispy crust edges, and she was now swallowing down almost half of a two-litre bottle of Pepsi. In between bites, she had rattled off a list of things she said she needed, as well as things she thought he should do.
“You had better write this down”. She waited until he got a pen.
“I will need panty-pads by tomorrow night, as my period is due.
You had better go to a big supermarket outside the city, buy them with lots of other stuff so they will just be unnoticed on the conveyor.
You can get me some more of those men’s briefs too, I don’t mind them.
Also some jogging trousers, or pyjama bottoms, so I don’t have to sit around in this skirt.
Make sure you get plenty of Coke or Pepsi too, I am not going to drink tap water, I assure you of that. And get lots of easy meals, you know, microwave stuff. I don’t fancy eating anything cooked in your kitchen, it looks absolutely filthy”.
She paused, swallowing a dough-ball whole, then carried on talking.
“And you will need one of those pre-paid Mobile Internet dongles. You don’t want to be using your home broadband once I start with the transactions, it will be too easy to trace later. We won’t need too much credit on it, and you can just destroy it later, or throw it in the river.
And get a basic pack of duvet cover, pillowcase, and sheet. Even your supposedly clean bed-sheets look yukky, and I won’t be spending more than one night on those, I can tell you”.
Don’t forget to get me lots of crisps, I like the ridged ones.
And some chocolate too. It helps me think straight”.
Rodney waited until he was sure she had finally stopped talking, and started to check the list. He had never realised that one person could go on so much, and he could easily believe that they might not have wanted her back at all.
Although it was close to eleven at night, Rodney sent a text to Phil. It was deliberately informal, chatty. ‘Phil mate. Pop round here after work tomorrow. We can have a couple of beers and a chat, be good to see you’. He knew he had to let Phil know what had happened, and decided it was best if he just came and saw for himself.
Marjorie was shouting from the sofa. “I can’t get Netflix on this stupid TV! And make sure there’s enough hot water, I will be having a bath before I go to bed”.
He was beginning to wonder if her being there was such a good idea.