Friday, 13 April 2007

Chapter 78

Dave Morris had a hunch that they would need to visit Lillian ‘McFry’ before he could complete his report on Dacre Lawrence: or Lillian ‘Blyth’ as she was recorded in her medical records. They were en route back to Cardiff, but wouldn’t get there until until just after 11pm. He’d have to hope Tom Gauntless, his boss, would accept a little delay: he’d need to see if they could schedule a trip to Telford on the Monday. It was almost 5.30pm and, although he knew his secretary would be packing up for the weekend, he had no choice but to call her. When she answered, Dave sensed the slight deflation in her voice: “It’s OK, Angela,” he said, as if to re-assure her that she wouldn’t be working ‘too’ late tonight, “this is just a quick one.” And he asked her to contact Lillian McFry, and to see whether she would mind if they called to see her on Monday. Sometime in the afternoon would be best. Could she book tickets for the train for the Jane and him – maybe that could wait until first thing Monday?

That done, he settled back into his seat opposite Jane, and tried to think what it was that would make someone pay a teenager so much money to alter on-line census records. Jane, meanwhile, was wondering what law Dacre Lawrence might have broken, and whether they had enough evidence to make a charge stick – but that’s police training for you, I suppose.


“You look hungry, Harry!” Carrie exclaimed, suddenly. “Why don’t we go through to the kitchen?” If Harry looked hungry, maybe it was a mixture of anxiety and the desire he had, which he had done his best to mask, for a cigarette? He knew Carrie didn’t like him smoking in the house. That was her business – it was her house, after all. He was accustomed, on his visits there, to wandering out in the garden whenever the craving got too much for him. Suddenly, the garden seemed like a good idea – somewhere he could collect his thoughts.

“I need a cigarette first, if you don’t mind, Carrie,” Harry said, standing up and carrying his drink towards the French windows.

“Sure, but …” Carrie tried to protest, but Harry had already opened the doors and was out in the damp greenery of the spacious back garden of the house. Carrie disappeared into the kitchen, shouting “Just come through when you’re ready, Harry – no hurry.”

As he drew the smoke deep into his lungs, Harry wondered if maybe he was mis-reading things. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d got the cues wrong with a woman, had even missed them completely. He wondered what he’d been doing at school when they’d had the ‘How to read a come-on’ lesson, because he sure as heck didn’t remember anything even if he’d been there.

Maybe if he’d had time to think about it, maybe if he’d remembered he was supposed to be round here tonight, he could have anticipated what to do – had a plan, a scheme … something, at least, up his sleeve? There was no doubt he’d been summonsed here under false pretences: all that ‘the kids would love to see you’ stuff, when all along they were organized to be whisked away. And Carrie looked like she’d made a real effort with her appearance – that short, black dress she was wearing hadn’t just been thrown on, he realized. He took a slug of whisky. His glass was empty now, but the alcohol wasn’t relaxing him. Maybe if he had another, he could think a bit straighter? He stubbed the cigarette out under his heel, and turned back to the lounge. He caught the opening bars of Charlie Parker’s “All The Things You Are” coming from the kitchen. Boy, was this woman pulling out all the stops!

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