This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 736 words.
Detective Inspector Jo Drummond had worked hard to get where she was. Twelve years a copper, putting up with all the sex talk, and being told to make the tea, or look after lost kids. She had stuck with it, and even though most of the experienced men on her team obviously resented having a woman in charge, they had to admit she got the job done. That Sunday afternoon, she was on call, and not expecting anything much to happen in that sleepy town. So when the Control Room rang to tell her about a murder, she was as surprised as the victim had been.
The first two uniforms on scene had responded to a three-nines call from a local prostitute. She had been supposed to call on one of her regular clients, even had a key to his flat, it seemed. Jo had a chat with her outside. Mandy was pushing fifty, and had started to do house calls when street trade dropped off because of her age. She had been seeing the dead man, George Greaves, every Sunday afternoon for over a year. He had given her the key in case he was late back.
Once an officer had taken her statement, Jo let her go home. She was never going to be a suspect, and her fingerprints were on file anyway. Then Jo went upstairs to look at the scene. No sign of forced entry, and what seemed to be one stab wound to the neck. There was a lot of blood around, so she was careful not to step in it. Using the radio in her car, she requested the forensic team, and asked for the rest of her squad to be called in from home.
Jimmy made sure to talk to the receptionist at the Edith Cavell Unit, asking her for his mother’s room number. She seemed amused. “You mean what Ward, not what room. She is on Mollett ward, just along the corridor to your right. See the nurse on duty at the desk”. Jimmy thanked her politely, and soon saw the sign above the double doors halfway down. The nurse was checking drugs in a trolley, and smiled as Jimmy came in. “Mrs Walker? Oh yes, she is in the last bed on the left, by the window. Please go and see her”.
There were six beds on each side, and they were all screened off by curtains. He could hear the machines beeping at different rates as he walked along. Opening the last curtain on the left, he saw his mum lying there. Her eyes had tape on them to keep them closed, and she had an oxygen mask over her face. A tube ran from under the bedcovers to a big bag full of yellow fluid, and a glass bottle of clear fluid was hanging from a stand, a long plastic tube was leading down from it, attached to her arm with a taped-over needle of some sort. As he stared at her, the nurse’s voice behind him made him jump.
“You should talk to your mum you know. She can probably hear you, even though she is unable to respond”. The nurse injected something into the plastic tube, and went back to her desk.
Thinking he had better make it look good, Jimmy chatted to his mum. He told her that Lesley was looking after him now, and that he had been to see the solicitor about her money. Not really having a clue what else to say, he started to recite some of her favourite sections of The Bible, checking his watch to make sure he stayed long enough to convince the staff. Then some kind of alarm went off, and people rushed in to help the nurse. In all the commotion, he slipped out of the ward, making sure to say goodbye and thank you to the receptionist as he walked out.
It was only ten minutes after two when he got home, so he wasn’t that late for his Sunday dinner.
Lesley was dressed very nicely, and wearing a striped apron over her clothes to protect them as she dished up the meal. As well as the Yorkshire puddings and home-made mint sauce, she had done roast potatoes, carrots, and peas. As Jimmy tucked in heartily, Lesley beamed with satisfaction.
“There’s an apple and blackberry pie for afters. I made that myself”.