Carter knocked on the door and waited. He avoided the doorbell as he knew it played the theme from the Godfather. He waited patiently and eventually Claire came to the door. Her hair was scraped back in a ponytail and she wasn’t wearing any make up although she did have on a pair of dark glasses.
“Hello, Mrs Davison. DI Carter, Southwick. Mind if I come in for a few minutes? I’ve got a few questions I’d like to ask you.” He moved to get past Claire but she blocked his path.
“Got a warrant?” She knew the drill.
“Look, I’m not after anything. Can I call you Claire?”
“Mrs Davison is fine.”
“I’m just a little worried about your husband. He seems to have been under a lot of stress recently.”
“Nice of you to be concerned. This community policing has come a long way.” She didn’t normally speak to the police, she usually left that to Kev and she couldn’t be bothered today. “If you want to know anything about my husband I think you had better ask him.”
“I would usually but as I said, he seems to be under a lot of pressure. Are things ok at home?”
“I don’t think that’s any of your business, do you?” She went to close the door but Carter placed his foot in the way.
“I wouldn’t ask normally, it’s just I couldn’t help noticing the glasses. Had a little accident have we?” There was no point in denying it; the bruising had spread far enough for it to be obvious.
“Walked into a door.”
“As I thought. The thing is there have been a lot of people having accidents recently. I have two dead bodies on my hands; both of them linked to your husband. Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that he is involved but he could well be in danger. Has anything changed recently, is there anybody new on the scene? Is there anything at all that you want to tell me?”
There was only one new face but he wasn’t involved with Kev.
“Not that I know of. I don’t get involved in his business. Like I said, you should speak to Kev.”
“I will, don’t worry about that. I just hope I get to him before somebody else does. If you do think of anything at all please give me a ring.” He handed her his card.
“Goodbye, constable.” Claire closed the door.
“Detective Inspector, ” said Carter. Claire threw his card in the bin.
“Where did you get them from?” Elvis asked.
I was carrying two bed sheets.
“From the airing cupboard, my Mam won’t miss them. There are only two beds in the house, my parents’ and mine. They’ve both got sheets on so the ones in the cupboard serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever. I’ve no idea why my Mam has them.”
“Wasn’t your Dad on strike a few years ago down the shipyards,” Elvis asked.
“You’re right. He must have intended to use them as banners and never got round to it.”
“You’ll never believe what I found,” Bumper produced two tins of paint from behind his back. “I couldn’t believe my luck when I found them in the cupboard under the stairs. The house is already painted so I’ve no idea why they were there.”
“We couldn’t be luckier if we tried.”
The plan was starting to come together. All the other lads were getting involved. Some, I must say, were a little more reluctant than I would have liked especially Gilbert.
“My Mam’ll knack us.”
“Look Gilbert, she’ll be proud of you. How many of your brothers have been on the news?”
He still wasn’t convinced but Bumper intervened.
“I know we said we would never mention this again but this is an emergency. Remember the programme incident, Gilbert? You wouldn’t like that secret to get out now would you?”
“That’s not fair.”
“True but like I said, this is an emergency. Are you with us or not?”
Gilbert reluctantly agreed.
“Right everybody go home and watch the news,” I ordered, ”we need ideas.” We all ran home excitedly.
Claire read the newspaper; Mr Burns was on the front page. She hadn’t really liked him at school but it was sad that he was dead. The paper said it was suicide; he had hung himself. She wondered if this was one of the bodies that Carter had referred to. Kev had his faults but he could hardly have been involved in a suicide.
She remembered the invitation that Pete had given her. Maybe Burns had been involved in some sex game that had gone wrong. She looked in the mirror as she poured herself another glass of wine, hoping that the bruising would have gone down by the time she went to the reunion. She didn’t want to field any awkward questions.
Claire picked up the flowers that were in a vase on the sideboard. Kev had sent them. He always did when he had hit her; he thought it made everything ok. She moved them into the dining room where she couldn’t see them.
Noticing Pete’s number on the post-it note by the phone, she thought of ringing him for a chat but she knew Kev would be in soon expecting to be fed. Anyway, she didn’t know what she would say if she did ring.
Claire placed the pan on the hob for the pasta and started chopping the vegetables, the onions making her cry.
“Alright love?” asked Kev as he came into the kitchen. He glanced briefly at the paper and put it down again. “What’s for tea?”
“Pasta.” She couldn’t be bothered to make anything else. He wouldn’t care either way.
“Good. Been up to anything today?” He took the orange out of the fridge and took a swig from the bottle. She handed him a glass.
“Had a visitor earlier.”
“That’s nice, who was it?” He was looking in the fridge for something to eat while he was waiting for his pasta.
“Tea will be in a couple of minutes. Don’t eat anything now; you’ll ruin your appetite.”
He grunted and closed the fridge door.
“It was DI Carter from Southwick.”
“What was?” asked Kev dismissively.
“My visitor today.”
“What the fuck did he want?” Kev slammed the glass down and moved towards Claire. She edged backwards towards the bench. “You know not to let anyone in here unless they have a warrant.”
“I didn’t let him in. He just wanted to talk.” Claire eyed the pan of boiling water and wondered if she could reach it.
“How many times do you have to be told woman? You never talk to coppers.”
He was now standing right above Claire pinning her into the corner. She had nowhere else to go.
“He said he was worried about you. He wanted to know if there were any problems at home.”
“And I suppose you told him that I did that to you?” He pointed at her face. His voice was getting louder, more aggressive. The water in the pan was beginning to bubble over.
“I didn’t tell him anything but I could hardly hide this could I?” She pointed at her eye with her left hand, with her right she had found the knife.
“So what did he say exactly?”
“He said there were two bodies, said that you were connected to them.”
He punched the cupboard above her head as the water sizzled on the hob. Claire grabbed the knife tightly.
“He has no right coming round here saying things like that to my wife. I’ll fucking kill him.”
“He thought you were in danger. Said you had to be careful.”
“Do you not think I can look after myself, think I’m turning soft?” He raised his hand.
“Take one more step and I’ll kill you. I swear I will.” Claire swiftly pulled the knife from behind her back and pointed it at Kev.
“What the fuck do you think you are doing?” He took a step back.
“I don’t know what your involvement is with these deaths and I don’t want to know but I’m warning you, if you ever raise your hands to me again, yours will be the next body he’s looking at.”
“Okay, okay.” He edged back another step. “What bodies was he talking about?”
“He didn’t say, just said you were connected. I’m scared Kev. I think Mr Burns might be one of them.”
“From school, remember? He’s dead; it’s on the front of the Echo.” She lowered the knife as he picked up the paper. He read the story slowly and then threw the paper across the kitchen.
“It was fucking suicide. How could I be involved in a fucking suicide? They know who the killer is already.”
“I just thought you were connected to Mr Burns even if you weren’t responsible for his death. Maybe that’s what he meant.”
“I don’t know any more. Whatever it is he means I’m still going to kill him if he ever comes round here again without a warrant.”
Kev suddenly made a lunge for Claire and grabbed her right arm. He squeezed it tightly until she dropped the knife.
“And I swear if you ever threaten me again I’ll kill you, you stupid bitch. That’s one murder he will be able to solve.” He stormed off towards the door. “I’m not hungry any more, I’m going out.”
Claire shook as she took the pan from the hob. It had boiled dry and the pasta had stuck to the bottom of the pan. She started sobbing as she knelt down to pick up the knife.
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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