This is the twenty-fourth part of a fiction serial, in 843 words.
As soon as I saw the news report, I immediately knew that Keith had been involved somehow. I said as much to Susan, but she didn’t agree. “Danny, he is not the nicest person, but I don’t think he would ever do anything like that. You are taking things too far now”.
Of course, Susan had no idea what had happened at Beachy Head that night, and she was not going to want to think that her brother could kill someone, even if he only arranged it.
That now left me as the only person who could ever implicate Keith. Not that I had any intention of doing so, as I would also be an accessory. Keith should have known that, but I was sure he didn’t trust me. I resolved to meet him somewhere, and talk it through.
We were not invited to the funeral, but it was reported on the news that the Health and Safety Executive had investigated the incident, and concluded that it had been carelessness on the part of the plumbers, as a blow-torch had been found close to an unsecured gas pipe. I didn’t believe it was negligence for a second. No plumber would be using a blow-torch in such a situation, or leave a disconnected gas pipe uncapped.
It took some months before I could get a private meeting with Keith. I had to go and see him at his constituency office, on a Friday evening. He was cagey. “So to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit, old musketeer?” I didn’t mince my words, and told him that I was sure he had arranged the explosion that had killed Terry and one of his employees. He could have blustered, could have acted outraged at my suggestion. But he didn’t.
He just smiled.
“You should know that I was almost one hundred miles away at the time, attending a meeting in Peterborough for the selection of a new candidate. Besides, how could I have possibly caused a gas explosion without endangering myself? And not forgetting that I know absolutley nothing about plumbing, central heating, or gas pipes. You must be delusional, Danny, you really must”. From the expression on his face, I knew I was right. He had arranged it somehow.
I made it clear to him that I didn’t believe him, and thought that what he had done was completely outrageous and unacceptable. But he had a cast-iron alibi, with many witnesses, and he probably hadn’t been within miles of Harlesden in his entire life. Knowing was one thing, proving it was another. There were people waiting to see him, so I was more or less dismissed.
“If there is nothing else, I am very busy. You and Susan should come for dinner one night. Bring young Stephen, I understand he is doing well at school? Maddy would love to see you, I’m sure. Meanwhile, try to rein in your paranoia. It won’t help our relationship, and it is far too late to do anything to help Terry now”.
Naturally, I didn’t tell Susan about the meeting, and certainly didn’t mention his dinner invitation. I decided that even if he was my brother-in-law, the less we saw of him the better.
Events took my mind off Keith. After less than two years in remission, my mum was diagnosed with secondary tumours. This time they were in her vital organs, and her prognosis was bad. So bad in fact, that she didn’t see the summer. I didn’t invite Keith and Maddy to the funeral, though Susan’s parents attended to pay their respects. I doubted Keith would come anyway, as he was still very busy trying to become the leader of the Conservatives. He sent a card with a printed message. No doubt one of his admin assistants sorted that out for him.
Stephen was now playing in various sports teams for Dulwich College. Susan drove him to training, and to matches when no transport had been arranged. One Saturday morning, she asked me for my car keys, as she was taking him to Crystal Palace Sports centre, and my car was behind hers. “I might as well take the Merc, if you are going to be at home”. I nodded, and handed her the keys. She was on the insurance for my company car, something I had arranged and paid for.
They left just after nine that morning, and I did some admin work on my laptop while they were out. When the house phone rang at just after midday, I was surprised to hear a serious voice at the other end. “Mister Wellman? This is Sergeant Jones from the traffic division. I am sorry to tell you that your wife has been involved in a serious accident, and is currently at the Mayday Hospital. They are just being checked over, but I think you will need to go and collect her and your son.”
I found her keys for the Volvo, and drove to the hospital. I had an inkling it was bad.