Month: July 2021

Souvenirs

See that snowglobe of the Windsor Castle? That was the first one, I don’t know why I said it, it just came out. Jimmy explained his souvenir collection to Olivia. It started with Emma when he was a student. He had told her the snowglobe was exactly like one he had as a child, he had loved it and then it was lost in a house-move. It was all a lie; it just came out before he had time to think about what he was saying. Elaine gave him the snowglobe. That was how it started. Jimmy then showed Olivia a metal coaster with an engraving of a flower on it, part of a set, which he had stolen from Lynn. A picture frame in which Diane had never got round to replacing the awful poster of The Eifel Tower that came with it. She had willingly gifted it to Jimmy. A felt paw-print that was a heat-resistant mat on his dining table used to be Anne’s heat-resistant mat. They were all mundane things, and you would never suspect they meant anything until Jimmy told the stories. And he loved telling the stories.

Olivia was disgusted, why did he have to re-count their sexual preferences? She’d been going out with Jimmy for three months. She thought of all the times she’d been here, not knowing she was sitting amongst the souvenirs of his sex life. She wondered what he would take from her, and what he would say about her. He hadn’t asked for anything so he must have stolen something. He would have done that already, it would be no use waiting until after they broke up, which was now plainly inevitable. What a horrid little man, he just wants sex and a memento, like a serial rapist, it’s not even about me, he never asks anything about me. Jimmy would never stay on any subjects around family, he would not talk about his parents or siblings for long. He never expressed any likes or dislikes. He held back anything that could be part of a meaningful connection. Olivia had noticed none of these shortcomings until he told her about the souvenirs.

It was Tuesday, Jimmy went to The Whitlock pub to meet his friend Liam for happy hour. Where’s the lovely Olivia this evening? Jimmy told him she had gone to her sister’s house and would stay overnight. They sat near the window; fire engines roared by. They’ll be going to the council estate, chip-pan fire probably. Jimmy and Liam had a chuckle. Happy hour was from 6pm until 8, then they had one for the road at normal prices. Jimmy was well over the drink drive limit, he dropped Liam off and headed home. Fear set in as he got nearer, he turned the corner to face the billowing smoke. The fire engines were at his house, spraying water. All the windows were blown, Jimmy felt sick. He approached a policeman and told him it was his house. Once the situation was deemed under control, they took him to the station. The firemen had said it looked like arson as soon as they saw it. An even blaze signifies a liberal use of accelerants, probably petrol. They asked Jimmy about enemies, suspects, motives, and they got nothing. Jimmy said he was popular, everyone liked him, he enjoyed life.

Jimmy went to Liam ‘s house, his wife Mia answered the door. He asked them both to sit down before he would tell his amazing story. Liam served wine, Jimmy recounted the evening and added the police haven’t got a clue, they’re questioning Olivia now. Why would she do it? I’ve been the perfect gentlemen to her, I gave her a key to the front door. Mia agreed, the little Olivia, the vegetarian, could not set fire to Jimmy’s house. It was more likely a burglar from the council estate who set the fire to cover his tracks. Liam said Jimmy would be the new Bobbit, like Wayne Bobbit, whose wife had cut off his penis and tossed it in a field. Jimmy told them it was just an internet myth; it had never happened. Mia backed him up, women don’t do violent things like men do, Olivia’s just like one of us, she couldn’t have done it, the police should be down on the council estate, knocking on doors.

Olivia ‘s interview was a formality, she said she was at her sister’s house at 7pm, the constable confirmed that the alarm was raised at 8:40pm. Both constables looked at the diminutive Olivia in her summer dress. When they offered her a coffee she said, no milk please, I’m vegan. They decided she could not be the arsonist. Olivia nodded at the inspector on her way out, silly sod with his beetroot nose, he want’s to lay off the sauce.

After the interview, Olivia went back to her sister’s house. She recanted her interview. Michelle pointed out that Olivia had come to her house after 9pm, she was unusually late. Olivia exclaimed oh shit! I told them the wrong time; I was supposed to be here at 7 but I was late watching that movie on the telly. Michelle agreed that it was a silly mistake and if the police asked, she would say Olivia was there at 7pm.

26 July 2021



Hits and Misses

Ian fiddled with his watch, he couldn’t get the step counter to synchronise with his smartphone. Mike teased him that the watch couldn’t handle any more connections while his wife was using it to track his whereabouts. Mike knew Ian was worried about his wife leaving him, they had been arguing a lot – more than usual. He had bought the watch to get in shape, for her. Mike also knew that Ian was distracting himself with the watch, telling himself he was making an effort. The effort he needed to make was to talk to her. Mike also knew she was having an affair, everyone knew. Was she hoping that Mike would tell his friend that his marriage was over? Mike didn’t like that idea. He didn’t like Ian that much, they weren’t proper friends, they were colleagues. After seven years working and drinking together, people just assumed they were the best of friends. Mike had never once asked Ian to join him for a drink. The concerts, the films, the football matches, all Ian’s ideas.

Mike had a frightening thought If Lisa kicks him out, I’m all he’s got. This boiled potato could turn up at my house one night, looking for a place to stay. He had to do something. The first step would be to find out who Lisa was having an affair with.

It was a dark and stormy night, Mike opened their wheelie bin, took a bag home and opened it in his garage. The flickering blueish light exposed the contents and smell of his friend’s domestic routine. Junk mail, credit card bills, a mouldy orange, a brand-new book entitled “Wait. The useful Art of Procrastination”, receipts, and a business card; Charles Thornton, Redmill Publishing. Lisa was a small business advisor at a high street bank, why would she throw away a business card? Something to hide? Then he found the bank statements, two withdrawals of seven thousand, one of six thousand. She’s moving money before springing the divorce. I suppose that’s how it goes; she must have seen a lawyer already.

Mike went onto an office networking website and found Redmill, eighteen staff where on the website and he had second degree contacts with two of them. He sent off a jovial email claiming he was trying to reconnect with his old friend Charles Thornton. They had never heard of him. A google search found thousands of Charles Thorntons, that was no help. He called the number from the business card, Charles answered, Mike panicked and hung up the phone. He had a feeling that he might have made a mistake.

Charles Thornton looked at the number on his phone screen, he called his contact at the phone company and got a name for 25 pounds, Michael Thompson. A few minutes on the internet and he had Mike’s address and social media pages. He made the connection with Ian and called Lisa. Charles demanded another twelve thousand, he said he would have to get rid of Mike too. Lisa argued that Mike was Charles’s problem, it wouldn’t come back to her. Things got heated, she agreed to five thousand more if he would get a move on. Lisa cursed Mike, five thousand pounds for that useless lump of lard. I could have had a spa weekend with that money; I could have had a week.

The last Friday of the month was always casual Friday at work followed by drinks at the pub. Lisa would join Ian and Mike and their colleagues and then the three would share a taxi to Ian and Lisa’s house for a nightcap. Mike would then walk home, it was a familiar pattern, this time there was a difference. Charles Thornton had been watching them. Lisa had forgotten most of what she had told Charles in their one meeting. Charles habitually extended conversations long after he had what he needed, Lisa would naturally only remember the parts that were most interesting for her. He sat opposite the pub and ate a ham and mustard sandwich. When he was finished, he left them to finish their evening and went to their house. He let himself in and waited.

Inspector Hartley arrived once the scene had been secured. He would be the lead investigator. The Constables on the scene filled him in; a classic love triangle, husband shoots the lovers and turns the gun on himself. The gun was there, in the Ian’s cold dead hand, which was still a bit warm. The neighbour confirmed that Lisa was having an affair. They did the routine forensic checks and went back to the station. By the end of the following week Hartley was in Superintendent Robertson’s office with the draft report. There were a few loose ends. The missing money from Lisa’s bank account, the neighbour’s claim that Mike was not the man having the affair with Lisa, and the business card in Mike’s pocket from the untraceable Charles Thornton.

Superintendent Robertson took the view that the neighbour was mistaken, as witnesses often are, and the money must be stashed away in preparation for a divorce. He concluded that only Mike could have told them who Charles Thornton was, there was no reason think he was connected to the case, and every case has a red herring or two. Hartley thought that Thornton was the secret lover, and he must have staged the whole scene, Mike was just visiting his best friend. Why would Thornton kill Lisa? Why did Thompson have Thornton’s business card? asked Robertson, citing William of Ockham – the simpler answer is the usually the correct answer; it’s a love triangle, plain and simple. On top of that, 95% of all murders are domestic, the victim knows the killer, it all adds up.

They agreed to leave these little musings of the final report, it looked like a job well done. The business card and bank statements were filed and archived. The town Mayor commended all of the brave officers and constables involved.

19 July 2021

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