This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 1300 words.
Memories of Melissa
After getting up to make some tea and toast, Jenny took it back to bed. She had to have a day of rest, even if it meant not being able to continue with her plans. Swallowing more painkillers with the tea, she turned over and snuggled under the duvet. They said that sleep was nature’s way of healing. She hoped they were right.
In the incident room, officers were busy taking down the photos and information concerning Phillipa’s murder. There had been a gang-related shooting in the town last night, one dead, four injured. The press and TV were all over it, and John Meacham had received orders to add his team to the investigation. He didn’t like letting go of a case so early, but orders were orders, and they had no suspect. He took the files through to the general office, and approached one of the older detective constables. “Ronnie, do me a favour and give the CCTV another look, will you? There has to be a suspect vehicle of some kind, I’m convinced the killer didn’t walk to and from Mrs Watson’s”. The tired-looking man just about managed a smile.
“Okay sir, just leave it on the pile, and I will get on it as soon as I can”.
Mrs Wilkinson’s guest house was a nightmare for the forensic teams. Five rooms, plus the old woman’s own small apartment on the ground floor. Endless sinks and baths to search for hair samples and DNA, as well as decades of fingerprints, mostly smudged or partials. The owner hadn’t been that fastidious about cleaning, and the place was firmly at the cheap end of the hospitality market. Izzy watched as officers bagged up sheets and pillowcases, the sound of small vacuum cleaners being run across mattresses for samples. She was bone tired, hungry, and thirsty. Sammy looked to be dead on his feet too.
The dead woman had been removed to the mortuary after the photos had been taken, and the news was that they would have to wait until late tomorrow for the results, and the official cause and time of death. There was nothing in the large house to give any indication of who might have stayed there recently. Either she didn’t keep any records, or the killer had most likely taken away any evidence. Any hope of footprints or tyre matches had been ruined by the arrival of the guest who had found her, followed by the two police cars and the tramping feet of four uniformed coppers. Izzy turned to her colleague, and rubbed his arm lightly.
“Come on Sammy, I’ll buy you breakfast”.
After four hour’s sleep and a quick shower, DS Baker was back at work. The case had now been officially enlarged to include both murders, and Chief Inspector Alistair Tennant had taken over. A sharp-suited Scotsman with an eye for the ladies, he had a good reputation for no-nonsense policing, and Izzy was happy that he had caught the case. She quite fancied him too, truth be told. However, her good mood was deflated when she and Sammy were allocated to the guest house murder only, and told to hand over any notes about the Holloway investigation. C.I. Tennant was trying out a new method, splitting the team into two, with each half working on one part of the case. Two officers, including Donna, had been tasked with sifting through everything, and trying to find a definite connection. Tennant made a quick speech, before dismissing them to get on with their work.
“This country has more CCTV per head of the population than anywhere else in the world. What we need will be on a camera, somewhere. Get around all the shops, motorway and traffic cameras, and any private home that has one facing the roads we are interested in. I can’t believe Holloway didn’t have one showing his driveway. That’s a shame, as it would have solved that crime much faster. Find me a car, find me the woman walking around in her blonde wig. Find me something we can use. Okay, off you go, get on it”.
It was getting dark when Jenny woke up. She convinced herself she felt better, despite the awful dragging sensation under her left arm. Wrapping herself up in a fleece dressing-gown, she went out to the living room and opened her laptop.
Nothing about Phil’s case, but the west country news website reported the murder of Tanny. It said that police were treating the case as a burglary, adding the usual old chestnut, ‘investigations are ongoing’. As far as the twins’ cafe was concerned, that seemed to be old news already, apparently still considered to be an accident. There was no statement from the police on that incident. But they had found Mrs Wilkinson, and reporters were already linking the case to Tabs. An update confirmed that a new man was now in charge of the case, quoting him as saying “We are only looking for one suspect in both murders”. That was bound to have happened.
She should never have bought everything in the same shop.
Pulling the dressing-gown off her left shoulder, she inspected the thin skin covering the biggest lump. It looked like a boil that could easily burst. She would have to be careful. Typing quickly onto the laptop keyboard, she did some more investigating about such lumps. It seemed they were called ‘Fungating’, as they took on a mushroom-like appearance. According to what she was reading, it would eventually break through the skin, and become ulcerated. Jenny didn’t like the sound of that, and it made her feel a bit sick when one web page had a medical photo of one. She closed the laptop and went to make a cup of tea, trying not to think about the image she had just seen.
Sipping the hot tea, she thought about something else, to take her mind off what was growing on her breast. Opening a smart notebook, she flicked it onto a clean page, and wrote a name at the top. ‘Melissa Silletoe’.
Miss Silletoe was the teacher that Jenny had gone to, to talk about her worries over the bullying. As was often the case with teachers, it was hard to guess her age. Younger than Mum perhaps, but older than most of the other female teachers for sure. She had a kindly way about her, like an Aunt who treated you more like an equal than a kid. She was a Maths teacher, and she was very good with computers too. The machines back then were quite primitive, but she managed to explain how they worked. Jenny was good at Maths, and it didn’t go unnoticed. She had mentioned the benefits of extra private tuition on a parent-teacher night, but there was no way a woman on her own like Mum could afford that.
When Jenny had confided in her, she had been overwhelmingly sympathetic. And when she broke down in tears, the friendly woman had stroked her hair, and cuddled her close as a shoulder to cry on. She had even agreed that there was little point taking her complaints to the head teacher, as that was likely to make her isolation much worse, and possibly increase the bullying too. Jenny had felt better after talking to her, and thanked her profusely. She noticed Miss Silletoe was breathing heavily though, and hoped she hadn’t been too upset by the revelations. The teacher stroked her face, telling her not to worry.
“You are in good hands now. Leave it to me, I will look after you”.
Closing her eyes, she could see her now. All care and concern.
Well she had certainly looked after her. And she had looked after herself too.