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‘Change of plan, I’m going back to my flat,’ she said.

 

 

61

 

 

Erika had been back at her flat for a couple of hours, when the buzzer went. When she looked through the spy hole, she saw Peterson’s face, magnified as he peered through. She sighed and unlocked the door.

‘Hey, how you doing?’

‘Fine.’

‘I stopped by your hotel in Dulwich, they said you’d checked out. This was warm when I got there…’ he held up a white plastic bag.

‘Is that Chinese?’

He nodded. ‘It’s all the good stuff, too. Crispy chilli beef, Chicken Chow Mein, crispy seaweed, prawn crackers.’

‘Damn you. How did you know I wouldn’t have any food in?’

She stood to one side and let him in. He saw she had been tidying the flat. The sofa bed was stacked with folded bedding, and there was a wet pink circle on the carpet with a can of carpet foam next to it. The light fitting had been unscrewed, so had the lamp on the table by the television. The housing for both smoke alarms lay in pieces on the coffee table.

‘I just phoned my letting agency. They didn’t know about anyone coming to read the gas or electricity meter.’

‘You think someone came in and bugged you?’ asked Peterson putting the Chinese food down on the counter and opening the cupboards.

‘Plates are all dirty,’ she said.

‘Oh my god, what is this?’ he said looking at a pile of greying stuff on a plate.

‘My sister made Bryndzove Halusky… It obviously doesn’t look like that when it’s fresh…’

He started to chip at it with the end of a fork. Erika lit a cigarette and stared at the room. ‘He would have had to have been quick.’

‘Who?’

‘The meter man. My sister and the kids were all here when he came. Although they were in the garden.’

‘Did you check the housing for the electricity box?’

‘Yes, there’s nothing.’

Peterson washed a couple of plates and they sat down on the sofa. Erika started to shovel the food in. She reached for the remote, and it took a few attempts to get the television to switch on. Peterson leaned over and took the remote.

‘Choose what you want,’ she said through a mouthful of prawn crackers. He turned the remote over and took of the back where the batteries were kept, and opened it.

‘Well I’ll be damned,’ he said. He pulled out a small circle of metal with a tiny length of wire.

‘Jesus,’ said Erika putting her fork down. ‘I thought I was being paranoid.’

 

* * *

 

An hour later, they had finished eating, and they were sat with Erika’s computer and the logs of Amanda Bakers phone calls and internet search history.

‘I received a blank text, about a week ago. It was on the same day that Lenka was calling me to say she’d be coming here,’ said Erika.

‘You need to stop using your phone then,’ said Peterson handing over her iPhone, She switched it off.

‘What is it that Amanda found out? This case seems to be retreating further and further from me.’

‘Whatever it was, it was a big enough deal for someone to kill her, and Crawford, and for an attempt on your life too.’

‘Joel Michaels was in custody when it happened. Trevor Marksman was and still is in hospital… We had to release Michaels earlier today.’

‘Let’s take her search history and go through it line by line,’ said Peterson. They spent the next few hours poring over everything.

‘One of the videos keeps coming up, of Laura and Marianne in the park. And she’s accessed it at the seventh minute, and the forty third minute.’

‘Let’s take a look then,’ said Peterson. They logged into HOLMES and fond the video file. In both videos Laura and Marianne could be seen arguing, their voices were faint. Erika dragged the video back and to the same point and turned up the volume to full. The sounds of the kids screaming and laughing in the park boomed out, so did the squeak of the swings going back and forward.

‘What’s that Laura is saying, you don’t get to boss me around… her either…’

‘Yeah, her voice is louder, Marianne’s is pretty inaudible.’

They played it back again, and Erika repeated what she heard,

‘You don’t get to boss me around… not yours… mine…’ she stopped the video. And she got up, her mind whirring. ‘What is it?’ asked Peterson.

‘Not yours, mine… not yours, mine. There was that chocolate orange box by Amanda’s computer.’

‘She was a big lady, wasn’t she just craving something sweet? My mum has been known to eat stuff out of the bin she’s thrown away.’

‘No. She hadn’t opened it. She’d underlined…’ Erika scrabbled around for the photo from the crime scene. ‘Here look, she’d underlined that tagline they used to use in the adverts, ‘It’s not Terry’s, it’s mine.’

‘You think there was someone called Terry involved?’ asked Peterson watching her pace up and down, the cogs turning.

‘Forget that… Shit,’ she said standing still. She turned to Peterson. ‘What was the age difference between Laura and Jessica?’

‘Jessica was seven, Laura was twenty when Jessica… Shit.’

Eirka scrabbled for the print out, ‘how much of this has been checked through?

‘I don’t know. What are you looking for?

‘A web address with the .ie domain,’

‘Here, give me some,’ said Peterson, they spent a few minutes scanning each page of the tiny print.

‘Got it,’ said Erika. She moved to the laptop and typed in the web address; hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/bdm/Certificates/

‘Here look, she tried to search for a birth certificate. She wouldn’t have had access, so she went this application page, you can do online applications as they’re public documents.’

‘Due to a significant increase in orders for certificates as a result of the recent referendum in the United Kingdom (UK), the delivery time for certificates from this service will be up to thirty (30) days from the date of order,’ read Peterson. ‘So she didn’t find out, that’s when she phoned you.’

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