This is the sixteenth part of a fiction serial, in 960 words.
After agreeing to hire a nondescript car, Ian was allowed to leave, and get back to his van. He had told them he would park it somewhere away from town for now, and get the car rental company to pick him up from a different location. Anita agreed with Jane that he seemed reliable, and looked pretty tough too. But it had amused her that he thought it was alright to use a van that was so easy to spot. Jane left shortly after, promising to keep her updated on any developments.
Settling on having a takeaway meal delivered, Anita sat eating her Pad Thai noodles, thinking about how Mike had managed all of this without so much as a hint of what was going on. Going over everything that had happened in the last six months, she had to admit to herself that she hadn’t had a clue that anything out of the ordinary was occurring. Either she needed to pay more attention to life, or Mike was a great actor. An early night wasn’t much help, as her mind wouldn’t stop whirring.
The next morning, she got a call from the Lincolnshire Police. They wanted her to contact an undertaker about what should be done with the bodies of her in-laws. Red-faced, she apologised. “I’m so sorry, there has been so much going on, I had completely forgotten about Jim and Dorothy. I will call that number now”.
Although it sounded awfully uncaring, she had no option but to tell the undertaker to go ahead with a double cremation, and that nobody would be attending any service. “I don’t want to travel that far, I am pregnant you see. And my husband is currently missing. As far as I know, there are no other relatives”. He sounded as if that was nothing unusual, so she agreed to pay the basic price for the funeral, and that the ashes would be sent to her later, delivered by a courier service. Any guilt she was feeling was assuaged by the fact that Mike had left her to sort everything out.
There was also the matter of any will they had left. There would surely be some inheritance, as well as their substantial house to be sold. She knew that Mike would be the only beneficiary, and decided to wait until she could be certain he was never coming home. The house would have to be left to the attentions of the neighbours in the meantime. The last thing she needed was to have to worry about their empty property.
In the afternoon, her Mum phoned. She saw who it was on the caller I.D. and rejected the call. All those years of indifference followed by the recent display of selfishness had been the straw that broke the camel’s back. As far as she was concerned, Mum could just do one, and clear off with the wonderful David. Claudia phoned with good news. Betsy was talking, and might be discharged next week. Claude was going back to work tomorrow, trying to get some normality back in her life. She said that Anita was more than welcome to come and stay for a while, if she wanted to get away. But they both knew she was never going to leave the house until she knew what was going on with Mike.
No sooner had Claude hung up, then Jane rang. “Hi, Anita. I have just had a meeting with Ian Hope. I went to meet him at the motorway services. He has rented a car, and wanted me to let you know that it’s a silver Ford Focus. Thousands of those around, but if you see one following you, or near your house, then it’s likely to be him. I have given him some of the names to look into. He has some good contacts, like ex-military Ministry of Defence people, and former SAS colleagues now working in the private sector. He can do some of the digging for me, so I can avoid the attention of my superiors. It’s not something I would usually ever do, but then again, this is not a usual case”.
Then Jill phoned, to talk about Mum getting married, and to ask what was happening regarding Mike. Anita was wondering if she was going to spend the whole day on the phone. “Jill, are you at work? I will call you at home this evening”. Jill told her she had taken a sick day. “I hit the voddy last night, Nita. Woke up with a mouth like a wrestler’s jockstrap. I’m a lot better now though. Shall I come round?” Anita lied. “I’m feeling really tired, Jilly, thought I might have a lie down. I will ring you after dinner, and talk about it all then. I’m not going to Mum’s wedding though, I tell you that now”.
After pretending to Jill that she was going to bed, it suddenly sounded like a good idea. But she had no sooner climbed under the duvet, than the house phone rang. Sitting up, she yelled out loud. “For Christ’s sake! What’s going on with that bloody phone!” But she answered it anyway, as there was always a chance it might be Mike. It was a man’s voice, but not Mike.
“Mrs Hollis, this is Ian Hope. Sorry to disturb you, but I have a few things I would like to talk to you about. And I have also found out some things that might interest you. Will it be alright if I come and see you early this evening, sometime after dark?” Anita was impressed, he was working fast now he was out in the open.
“That will be fine, Ian. Shall we say about six?”