This is the eleventh part of a fiction serial, in 1385 words.
Developments in the investigation
Donna was talking to both teams. There had been what she called ‘significant developments’. Blonde hairs found in one of the guest rooms at Mrs Wilkinson’s were confirmed as being high-quality artificial hair, and would likely be a match for the blonde wig, if it was ever found. Meanwhile, it had been confirmed beyond doubt that the woman was the chief suspect in both murders, and they were definitely not looking for anyone else. They had also ruled out any connection between Mrs Holloway and the guest house owner, and had to conclude that Mrs Wilkinson had been killed in case she recognised the murderer.
As she turned over the next page in her notebook, Donna smiled before continuing. “The big news is that we have a suspect car now”. She held up a photo captured from CCTV. “This car was seen on cameras in the area around the Holloway house, and then in the general vicinity of the guest house. It was later picked up on a motorway camera, southbound”. Holding up more photos, Donna showed the group it was the same car. “Sadly, we cannot get a good look at the head or face of the driver, but it is our closest lead so far”.
Izzy called out. “Have we got the reg number at least?” Donna nodded. “It was sold by the previous owner, and we have no current keeper shown on the records. Someone is going down to see the company that it was sold to through an auction. It might take some time to get more details though”. Chief Inspector Tennant stood up. “Thanks for that Donna. I would like the best images of that car released to the press and TV. Someone somewhere knows who’s driving it, and if we find the car, we find the killer”. He clapped his hands. “Everyone back to work, no time to waste”.
In a different police station, Sergeant Pam Hayter was typing up her interim report. It looked a bit sparse, and she was trying to flesh it out, in the hope of making it look like she was earning her pay. No suspects. Cause of death. Blood loss from stab wounds. Local burglars and known villains all alibied up. Nothing whatsoever to go on. She had no charging recommendations, and as far as the investigation went, her well had run dry. With any luck her boss would file it for now, and wait to see if any stolen property turned up. There was no signal from the missing mobile phone. Probably smashed, and the battery and sim card removed too. No matter how many extra words of padding she typed, it still didn’t amount to much.
It had been a better day for Jenny. She had recovered her appetite, and been down to the local Zizzi for a nice lunch, after picking up a few things in the shops. Her plans for dealing with the next job were coming on, and all being well, she would be able to get started tomorrow. But thinking about Melissa again sent her mood low. She decided that a vodka and tonic would be in order, even thought it was still early.
That Tuesday in the house had been memorable for so many reasons. After a couple of hours chatting, she had started to regard Mel as a close friend, instead of just one of the better teachers. And nothing had been mentioned about the studying, not so much as one Maths book had been removed from the heavy shoulder bag she had arrived with. After so long being isolated and picked on, it felt good to be able to engage in friendly idle chatter, and she even managed an occasional laugh. Mel noticed her laughing too.
“You should laugh more, honey. You are very pretty when you are happy”. She stroked Jenny’s face again as she spoke, looking straight into her eyes. “I bet you have some nice outfits, too. I have only ever seen you in your school uniform”. Jenny shook her head. “Nothing special, just one decent dress that Mum bought me when we went to her friend’s wedding. It was only the evening part of the reception, but Mum said she wanted me to look smart”. Mel was nodding, then he reached out and took Jenny’s hand. “Tell you what, why don’t we go up to your room, and you can put it on and show me how nice you look?” She stood up, still holding her hand, and Jenny followed her upstairs. It seemed the most natural thing in the world.
The dress didn’t even come out of the wardrobe. Mel was all over her as soon as they got into the bedroom and closed the door. The passionate kissing, squeezing, stroking, and fondling completely overwhelmed her, and she didn’t hesitate to reciprocate. The pent-up urges of a sixteen year-old girl overflowed, and Mel took full advantage of her inexperience and naivete. As they lay close together on the single bed later, Mel spoke quietly, directly into her ear. “You know you can never tell anyone, don’t you? I would lose my job, and my career would be ruined. Your Mum would be horrified, and as for the school kids, I can only imagine what they would do to you”. Jenny sat up, a very serious expression on her face. “I swear I won’t ever tell anyone, Mel. I promise you. I would sooner die first”. As far as Jenny was concerned, Mel was the love of her life, and would be forever.
There were many more days like that to come, and they were always amazing. The venue for the lessons was changed to Mel’s smart apartment, and once there they could do what they liked, with no fear of Mum ever coming home and finding them together. They actually did some Maths, laughing about having to at least show some improvement in her studies. It was the best time in Jenny’s life. The bullies still left her alone, and she adored the secret glances shared with Mel during school hours. They even managed a weekend away, telling Mum it was a Maths seminar, with other bright kids. Mel booked a wooden cabin on a holiday park, and they didn’t leave it for almost three days. Jenny was lost in a fantasy of spending the rest of her life with Mel. After all, she was only seventeen years older than her, so still young.
Then just before the October half term, after that sublime summer, everything changed. Mel told her she couldn’t continue with the tuition, or their relationship. She reassured Jenny that her Maths was good enough to get her an A, but as for what Mel euphemistically referred to as their ‘closeness’, that had to stop. Jenny sobbed so hard, she almost retched. Clinging onto Mel like a limpet, refusing to let go. The worst part was that she wouldn’t give a reason for ending it, so Jenny naturally assumed it was all her fault, and that she had done something wrong. When she had finally calmed down enough to go home, and washed her blotchy face, Mel seemed cold, like a teacher again. “You had better go home now. And don’t come around here again”.
Back at the house before Mum was in from work, she found a packet of Tramadol in a drawer. Mum had been prescribed them for backache, but they made her queasy, so she hadn’t taken them. Jenny took them all, washed down with most of a two-litre bottle of Diet Coke.
She didn’t bother to leave a note.
Closing her mind to more of that stuff, Jenny turned on the TV, and switched it to the rolling news channel. Ten minutes in, and she saw a photo of her car, driving along the motorway. She turned up the volume and listened, catching the end of the report. “And police are asking that anyone who recognises the car, knows who drives it, or even if they have seen it parked somewhere, should get in touch with them through their local police force, or by dialling the freephone number on the screen now”. She switched off the set, and shook her head.
She was going to have to buy another car.