Monday, 9 July 2007

Chapter 116

“We’d best make our way back, don’t you think?” Alan McFry said to his brother, as they emptied the last of their beers.
Harry had made no other arrangements with Ana, other than that she’d ring him as soon as the results of Laurel McFry’s DNA tests were through. Harry was hoping it would determine the relationship between Dacre Lawrence and her: he knew it was most probably a distant one, but what exactly it was, he hadn’t a clue.

“Fancy a gallery, on the way, Harry?” Alan asked, as they left the bar.
“What were you thinking?” Harry replied. He wasn’t in a hurry to go back to the flat - not if there was even the remotest chance of bumping into Ana and Pablo, and all the embarrassments that would entail. Neither had he plans of his own for the afternoon – not now that Danny had made it clear he had his own business to attend to. He wondered what the boy might be up to. Maybe he’d met someone last night, and had a date?
Harry checked himself for projecting his own, younger self onto Danny – why should he assume he’d act like he would have done, at 19, given the freedom of Madrid?
“How about the Reina Sofia?” Alan asked, edging past a group of shoppers outside a tourist shop on the corner of the street.
“I never went there,” Harry said, “what have they got?”
“Hmm…” Alan replied, superior of a sudden. “I think there’s one piece you’ll find interesting, in the context of your case.” He left the response hanging, cryptically, as he made to cross the road, Harry keeping up, on his left. Their route took them slightly off the way to the flat, but not too far out that it mattered. Alan had another tack he had been waiting to try with his brother, though.

“Now… I think perhaps you owe me an explanation. About Friday night, that is.”
Harry had wondered when they’d get around to Friday – and Carrie, of course.

*

If Dacre Lawrence hadn’t been expecting any visitors that afternoon, then he was in for a surprise. Mabel Harris, practice manager at the Chapter Road Health Clinic was feeling generous. It wasn’t part of her job, of course, to visit her boss on a Sunday. But the visit by Dave Morris, from the Family Health Services Counter Fraud Operation, a couple of days earlier, had un-nerved her. She’d spent most of Saturday brooding about what Lawrence might have been up to – and she’d thought of a way she might just find out.

On entering the ward, she’d made her way to the nursing station, and asked to see the nurse in charge. It wasn’t difficult – there were only two or three staff on duty, and the senior nurse was soon located and called over. She recognized Mabel immediately as a regular visitor over the last few days, and wasn’t surprised at all when she asked for Dr Lawrence’s keys.
“He’ll need a change of pyjamas, and some toiletries,” she said, adding “and there is no family, of course.” For added alibi, Mabel pulled out her NHS ID card and flashed it to the nurse: “I’m the manager at Dr Lawrence’s practice.”

The keys were located and handed over. For show, Mabel thought she’d best pop in to see Dr Lawrence before she departed. As it wasn’t one of her lunch-hour visits, she would make it brief. She found him staring at the wall when she entered the room.
“Good afternoon, Dr Lawrence! How are we today?” she asked, brightly. She didn’t bother to take a seat, but hovered at the end of the bed.
Lawrence grunted an acknowledgement as his eyes flicked over her. He knew well enough that Mabel Harris had been using her visits over the last few days as an excuse to escape work. But he’d hardly expected to see her on a Sunday.

As if she guessed what he was thinking, she proffered an explanation.
“I’m going to collect some clothes for you, Dr Lawrence.” She spoke deliberately, and loudly, although there was nothing at all wrong with the doctor’s hearing. She paused, as if to let him take in the information. Lawrence knew he was powerless to argue against her. Maybe she was being helpful – but he doubted it. There was something about the ‘new’ Mabel Harris which made him more than a little uneasy. He knew she relished his weakness.

“Oh, and those people who came to visit the practice – the fraud people…” she said (emphasizing the last part rather too much for Lawrence’s liking) “…well, I think they’re going to be doing some sort of report.”

Mabel had told Lawrence about the visitors when she came on Friday, but had left the details vague. Now, his mind was starting to play over what exactly these ‘fraud people’ might be investigating. He hadn’t done anything so dramatically wrong, had he? Accessing patient records was part and parcel of being a GP and, well, if the government happened to make it easier to access records elsewhere in the country, he could hardly be castigated, could he? Part of him knew that, of course, he could be. With a grim resignation, he wondered whether there was anything to be gained by struggling on. It was one thing to fight against the effect of a stroke, to try to get back some semblance of normality in his life. But if they were on to him, what was the point?

“Anyway, Doctor – I’m afraid I can’t stop. There’s a television programme I simply must get back for - but I’ll see you on Monday, don’t you worry!” Mabel thought that was cutting enough: yes, let him know that a TV show was more important than him…
With that, she gave him a smile, turned on her heels and made her way out of the ward, out of the hospital and into her car, wondering, all the while, what she’d find in Lawrence’s flat.

2 comments:

70steen said...

aww Mabel!!! Was there any need for that...... oh & yes you can bet she will have a good snoop around... may have to re think Victoria Wood in her role as Victoria couldn't be so spiteful!!!

the domestic minx said...

Mabel is vile and I loathe her.