This is the eighteenth part of a fiction serial, in 710 words.
Simon’s body had not travelled too far from where he went into the water when it became snagged against an old motorcycle. That motorcycle had been in the canal since the end of the Korean War, after some celebrating soldiers had stolen it to ride back to barracks on, then run out of petrol. Rather than leave it where it could be found, they had dumped it into the canal.
The body might have stayed trapped there for much longer, if Declan’s narrow boat had not disturbed the water just enough for it to float to the top. As some ten days had passed, it was in something of a state.
Once Declan had given his statement to the police who arrived, he started his boat and got out of there before anyone turned up to ask for mooring fees.
The pathologist examining the body came to the conclusion that the man had hit his head after falling over drunk, and rolled into the canal where he had drowned. Wood fragments found in the wound were not deemed to be suspicious, as all sorts of things were under the murky water, or floating on it. The rats had nibbled at Simon too, but the police concluded he could still be formally identified. There had been no reason to search for footprints, or any other evidence along the canal.
Using the driving licence found in his wallet, it took them just over a week to find his only living relative, Valerie Keane. After she made the identification at the mortuary, she asked the officer how she could get back the money that Simon still owed her.
When almost two weeks had gone by and no police had called asking where he was that night by the canal, Jimmy concluded that there was no investigation into Simon’s death. He also concluded that killing people using violence was not the way forward. It involved the police, and they almost certainly still had their eye on him for George’s murder.
He wasn’t to know that the killing of George Greaves had been classifed ‘unsolved’, and added to the small file marked ‘Pending’. He also wasn’t to know that Jo Drummond had passed her interview board for promotion to Chief Inspector, and was moving to a uniform job at the Police Training School.
Jimmy threw himself into his studies. The next time God spoke to him was during an episode of Opportunity Knocks, a talent show that Lesley enjoyed watching. When the compere Hughie Green told him to make a difference, he answered in his head, telling God he was just going to have to wait.
Married life suited Lesley. She loved the regular sex, and even tolerated the lack of romance and genuine affection. She was destined to be a happy housewife, keeping the place clean, and making nice meals for them every night of the week. She carried on taking the pill though. She didn’t think Jimmy was quite ready to be a father, and truth be told, she didn’t want the encumbrance of a child in their life.
Jimmy worked hard and studied hard, and she used her experience to help him. He had developed an interest in the forensic side of biological hazards, and his first paper on that subject had earned him a merit.
She was so proud of her handsome husband, and was planning something special for his twenty-first birthday. He would get his degree later that year, so it was such a special year all round. The tutors had said they had never seen anyone so talented in the field, and they were amazed how fast Jimmy had progressed.
God was less pleased. During an episode of Coronation Street, a soap opera Lesley never missed, Elsie Tanner told Jimmy that he had let her down, and was no longer making a difference. It was God speaking of course, and this time Jimmy refused to respond. God was going to have to wait. Because Jimmy had a plan.
The evening before his twenty-first, Jimmy got a phone call from the Edith Cavell unit. His mum had just died. He thanked them for the call, and smiled to himself.
That was exactly the news he had been waiting for.