This is the eighteenth part of a fiction serial, in 769 words.
Promises had been made to my mum, but I hadn’t promised not to ring Jean. I rang her house phone, hoping that she wasn’t so ill as to not be able to talk. She sounded really chirpy when she answered, and pleased to hear from me. I started with the usual stuff; sorry to hear her news, glad that mum was moving in to look after her, pretty much what would be expected in that situation.
Casually, I slipped into what I really wanted to talk about. The boxes, and the reason mum had kept certain things, as well as hiring a detective, and paying for post-mortem reports. Jean made me swear never to tell my mum, then spent twenty minutes filling in the details of what I wanted to know.
“Terry had a trial for the junior team of a top football club. I forget which one now, but it was a big deal. Big enough to mean that Brian was taking him there on your first birthday. It was at a training ground somewhere in Surrey, which is why they were so far from home when the accident happened. Your mum was never convinced it was an accident. For one thing, the first policeman on scene was off duty, but he still ended up investigating it. I mean, that didn’t sound right. How would that ever happen? Then there were what they called inconsistencies in the cause of death. Despite that, the coroner ruled the cause of death as accidental, and praised the policeman for trying his best to help them”.
Carefully avoiding any reference to the 317 coincidences, I asked her why mum had paid a private detective to follow the policeman. Jean said she didn’t know about that. I wasn’t sure whether or not to believe her, so went on to ask about the other things in the boxes.
“Well Terry had been wearing the football kit for his trial, but had changed for the journey home, presumably, as he wasn’t wearing it when he got killed in the car crash. The fishing reels were kept in case you ever became interested in fishing, like your dad was. As for the medals, trophies, camera and tapes, well your mum could never bring herself to look at those, so saved them for you. You were supposed to get them after she was dead, but the decision to move in with me must have changed her mind about that”.
I thanked her for telling me what she knew, and said I would go and see her soon.
Reading through the newspapers, I found they all contained slightly different reports of the accident. One mentioned a Sergeant Holloway, from Traffic Division. Another small piece said that a police sergeant had come across the accident when off duty, and had attempted to resuscitate the youngest victim, after realising the driver was beyond help. I wanted to talk to someone else about all this, and there was only Mark. I sent him a text, asking him to come round after he finished work.
Then I got busy taking notes on my laptop.
My dad and my brother had been returning to Essex from Surrey, and were on the relatively busy A317 road. There was an accident that had wrecked the car, and an off-duty policeman had stopped to help. My mum hadn’t accepted the findings of the inquest, so had employed a detective to investigate the off duty traffic sergeant. He hadn’t come up with anything, so it seemed from his report.
Thirty years later, I was experiencing spooky happenings all relating to the numbers 3,1, and 7. Plus hearing the ball, feeling it bounce on me, and then hearing the whirring fishing lines just like on the tapes. Dad and Terry were tring to communicate, I didn’t have to be a psychic to realise that. Even so, that was hard for me to believe. Not only did I not generally believe in all that stuff, but why would they have waited thirty years to try to get my attention?
Sorting through the stuff on the floor, I tried to arrange it into some kind of timeline. Then when I was happy that I could make some sense of that, I quickly got dressed to walk to the local shops. Mark was going to need a lot of beer, and more than a few pizzas.
By eight-thirty that evening, Mark had demolished three nine-inch pepperoni pizzas, and was on his sixth can of lager. He tapped a file, and gave me a serious look.
“The detective agency. That’s where you should start”.