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‘Jesus christ,’ she said. ‘That’s it!’

 

 

45

 

 

Erika had decided to visit Marianne and when she arrived at 7 Avondale Road, there was a short round faced woman at the door with a grey haired man with a camera slung around his neck. The chain was on the front door and a voice was telling them to go away.

Erika pulled out her ID.

‘This is private property. Who are you?’ she asked.

‘Eva Castle, Daily Mail,’ said the woman. ‘We’re only asking to get her mother’s side of the story…’

‘NO!’ said the voice through the chain, which Erika realised was Laura.

‘Love, your Mum slashed a local paedophile with a knife in public, this is always going to be in your favour but it’s a chance to get your side of the story,’ said Eva leaning into the gap.

‘Come on, piss off,’ said Erika. The photographer lifted his camera and started to fire off some pictures in her face. Erika reached out and pushed the lens down.

‘Police brutality?’ he said with a glint in his eye. His voice had a high raspy register.

‘I could arrest you for harassment, both of you. You’re on private property. I’d make sure they take up most of the day processing you, taking DNA swabs for our database, the works. I’ll also confiscate your camera. What with all our glorious bureaucracy, you wouldn’t get it back for quite some time,’ said Erika.

There was a brief stand-off where Erika and the photographer refused to budge.

‘Come on Dave,’ said Eva. ‘S’not worth it…’

Erika stared them down as they moved off and up the driveway, she then turned and knocked on the front door. After a moment it opened a little, and Laura’s face stared through the gap.

‘Can I come in and talk?’ asked Erika. Laura’s eyes flitted from side to side then she relented and opened the door. The house was still and silent, and a clock chimed from upstairs.

‘Can I talk to your mum? We haven’t been able to get a statement from her.’

‘She’s upstairs. The doctor gave her something to sleep.’

‘How long ago was that?’

‘He’s just left, she’s going to be out for hours…’

‘Ok. Can I talk to you?’

‘What about?’ asked Laura her face sagging fearfully. She was dressed in tight blue jeans and a white blouse tucked in at the waist, showing off an enviable figure. Her face was bare and free of the heavy makeup, and Erika was shocked how old she looked without it, much older than her 44 years.

‘Please, just for a moment.’

Laura led Erika through the hallway to the kitchen.

‘Would you like tea?’ asked Laura. Erika smiled and nodded. She moved and filled the kettle, and her hands were shaking.

‘I wanted to ask who tipped you off about Trevor Marskman being in town?’

‘Mum had a phone call,’ said Laura placing the kettle down.

‘And who was the phone call from?’ asked Erika.

‘I don't know. I was outside in the garden and she was inside watching television.’

‘So your mother answered the phone?’

‘Yes, she answered the phone and then she came through here to tell me.’ Laura opened the cupboard and pulled a couple of cups out.

‘I thought you just said you out in the garden?’ asked Erika. Laura dropped one of the cups and it shattered across the floor.

‘Oh, shit, sorry…’

‘It’s okay,’ said Erika spying a dustpan and brush on the radiator by the door. She retrieved it and kneeled down to help

‘I was out in the garden, I meant to say that she came out and got me,’ said Laura, carefully picking up two long shards of broken china.

‘So it was her idea to go into town and confront Trevor?’ asked Erika sweeping the tiny bits of cup into the dustpan.

Laura nodded. She picked up the last of the big pieces and stood moving over to a pedal bin.

‘Did she say who the person was on the end of telephone?’

‘She said it was a journalist,’ replied Laura pressing on the pedal, the lid popped up and Erika moved over to tip the pieces in from the dustpan. On the top was a small cardboard pill box with the name Halcion written on it.

‘Is someone ill?’ asked Erika.

‘That what the doctor prescribed for Mum. A sleeping thing,’ said Laura. She moved away and started to make the tea again.

‘So there was no name?’

‘I don’t know his name,’ she said quickly.

‘The journalist was a ‘he’?’

‘Oh, I thought you meant the doctor, um no I she didn’t tell me the name of the journalist or if he was a he or a she… As I said, we’ve had so many over the years, spying, phishing etc.’

Laura filled the tea pot with her back to Erika.

‘Did your Mum explicitly say what she was going to do?’

‘She wanted to see Trevor, and she wanted to ask him once and for all if he did it.’

‘Didn't you realise it was a bad idea, Laura?’

Laura placed her hands on the work surface and bowed her head, nodding.

‘She'd had a lot to drink, and said she was going to drive into town with or without me.’

‘Did you know your mother had taken a knife?

‘No, and I wouldn't have taken her if I knew what she was going to do… What’s going to happen to her? I think she’s finally lost it. Do you think they’ll commit her to a mental hospital? Or should I commit her?’

Laura started to cry and Erika went and took her in her arms.

‘It’s so hard,’ Laura said her chest heaving. ‘We need a funeral. We need to draw a line under all this pain and suffering, and we need to put Jessica to rest. Do you know when we can have it?’ She looked up at Erika.

‘I hope you can very soon… What does Oscar Browne have to say?’

‘What do you mean?’ she answered sharply. She pulled away from Erika and went to get the milk from the fridge.

‘He’s working as your liaison with the police. He’s asked us to be the point of contact for the family?’

‘Yes. Sorry, he is,’ said Laura. Her hands were still shaking.

‘How is your relationship after all these years?’

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